Doyle Bramhall is a name that will be familiar to many people. It is only
in the last few years that he has branched out on his own, having
previously played in bands that have included other Texas blues alumni such
as Jimmie Vaughan, and his younger brother (Stevie Ray). After spells with
several notable Texas blues artists, and some success as a co-writer with
SRV, Bramhall branched out on his own, and "Fitchburg Street"--where he was
born, in West Dallas--is his sophomore album.
Texas and SRV influences come shining through immediately on "Dimples,"
done as a shuffle. It also has a little extra courtesy of some nice big fat
harp from Gary Primich. Son Doyle junior does a sterling job on guitar,
helped out by one Mike Judge (yes, that one!) on bass. Bramhall then
switches into a fairly straight reworking of "I'd Rather Be (Blind,
Crippled & Crazy)." Replete with horns and backing singers, Bramhall senior
shows that he has a great soulful voice, than calls to mind Stevie Winwood,
a comparison that is also brought to mind on "Life By The Drop." Given that
Bramhall has a good songwriting reputation it is slightly disappointing
that this is the only original tune here, having previously been covered by
Bramhall returns to raid the soul back catalog for "That's How Strong My
Love Is," which he also carries off successfully, before turning Jimmy
Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do" into a heavy slice of funk. After the
rolling blues of "It Ain't No Use," with Dru Webber adding the tasty guitar
licks, and a guitar/piano led "Maudie" the album rounds out nicely with a
brace of Howlin' Wolf tunes. "Forty Four" is not quite as menacing as the
original, but then again, few versions are, although the guitar sound,
courtesy of Doyle junior, does make it a close run thing. The album then
rocks out in style with "Sugar (Where'd You Get Your Sugar From)," with
Robin Syler taking over the guitar and adding some nasty slide.
"Fitchburg Street" could have been titled "Songs That Influenced Doyle
Bramhall." It shows that Bramhall is a first rate singer, and drummer. He
has a very good voice that is equally at home with raunchier blues or
soulful ballads, and his drumming is always on the money, but never in the
way. It would have been nice to have had more original songs, but
regardless of that, "Fitchburg Street" is still a fine album.
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