Cajun guitarist Tab Benoit has played and stayed true to the blues of Louisiana since his early recordings on Justice and Vanguard Records. On Wetlands, his first recording for Telarc, Benoit maintains the ties to his roots, with thirteen songs comprised of originals and well done Louisiana blues, cajun and zydeco covers. Benoit is backed by Carl Dufrene (bass) and Darryl White (Drums), creating his well-honed sound with the most basic instrumentation. The exception is on Anders Osborne's "Georgia," where Tab receives assistance on guitar and vocals from Osborne and Brian Stoltz.
Benoit's guitar is sharp and prominent throughout the CD as he demonstrates his versatility on the musical styles of Louisiana. Wetlands opens with the funky Cajun sounds of the original "Fast and Free," filled with stinging guitar breaks throughout. On Peppermint Harris' classic "I Got Loaded," Benoit demonstrates his command over the zydeco strain of Louisiana sound. Even missing the standard accordion backup, the song reeks with zydeco feeling. "I Got Loaded" is followed by the hard edged swamp blues sounds of "Muddy Bottom Blues" where Benoit's guitar growls in the repetitive boogie mantra of the song. The swampier style resurfaces later in the CD when Benoit goes solo to take on the original composition, "Down In The Swamp," including a very nice virtuoso guitar break.
Benoit shifts freely as the CD progresses, moving back to the cajun blues style for "When A Cajun Man Gets The Blues," an autobiographical ballad for the blues, cajun style. Benoit even throws in a bit of soul with a nice rendition of Otis Redding's classic, "These Arms of Mine." This followed by a bit of a tribute as Benoit flies boldly into the late Boozoo Chavis' original, "Dog Hill," where he again gets the zydeco feeling going without the assistance of a scrub board or a squeezebox. "Dog Hill" is followed by another Louisiana classic, "Her Mind Is Gone," from the piano pounding Professor Longhair. Again, Benoit is able to capture the feeling of the music, despite the absence of piano support.
Tab rolls out the funk again with his original, "Let Love Take Control." The song is very basic, but hits home with Benoit's exceptional guitar and soulful vocals taking control of the song. Wetlands ends with some added musical support as Benoit teams up with Anders Osborne and Brain Stoltz to perform Osborne's "Georgia," which is a girl named Georgia, not the State. With Osborne's distinctive slide guitar and rural Louisiana sound, the song is pure Louisiana born and bred. Benoit himself refers to the song as a "old fashioned jam in an old fashioned New Orleans studio." It is a fitting end to this fine CD.
Fans of Tab Benoit and the music of Louisiana are sure to enjoy Wetlands. To learn more about the CD or to pick up a copy, visit Telarc's website at www.telarc.com. You can also visit Telarc's website for complete information on Telarc CDs and to view their online catalog.
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