The Road We're On
by Mark E. Gallo
Review date: November 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
Though Sonny Landreth is one of a very small and elite handful of bona fide slide guitar wizards, he’s still working at getting more name recognition on the blues side of the fence. This 8th album, his second for Sugar Hill, one of the major bluegrass labels in the country, is squarely in the blues camp and shows him ready to square off with any slide player out there. His resume includes stints with zydeco legend Clifton Chenier, who hired him as a 17 year old, and that zydeco swamp thing has always been a large part of his sound. As a songwriter, he’s best known as the author of “Congo Square,” recorded by John Mayall and Kenny Neal. This all original program showcases more of that superb song crafting. It also more than adequately demonstrates that Mr. Landreth is a serious, butt-kicking guitarist; and while it does its fair share of rocking, his deft touch remains a source of amazement. The opening “True Blue,” with its gorgeous vocal/guitar unison intro, showcases that touch superbly. With a solid base laid down by bassist Dave Ranson and drummer Brian Brignac, Landreth offers slide guitar work that stands its own next to the best of Johnny Winter. “Hell At Home” (“I love your daughter but we don’t get along”) is a slinky bit of picking that drops the jaw a bit further. “All About You” (“the rest of my life ain’t gonna be all about you”) has a heavy in-the-pocket groove, courtesy of Ranson and Brignac, over which Landreth roars. The tempo is slowed for the sweet minor blues of “A World Away.” “Gone Pecan,” with drummer Mike Burch on board, maintains the relentless drive with a David Lindley-style burner. He pulls out the National Steel for “Natural World,” a song that sounds like another natural for Mayall to cover. “The Promise Land,” with its intentionally dropped d, is a trailer park-escape tune with a deep Louisiana groove. “Fallin’ For You” is a tune Landreth said he wrote with the intention of giving to it BB King, though it’s just too ethereal for BB. “Ol’ Lady Luck” is a medium blues that showcases Landreth’s always superb vocals and straight guitar work. “Gemini Blues” is a hard driver that works out of a shuffle slide and melts the strings into a molten slab by tune’s end. “The Road We’re On” is one of the highlights of the set. Over a quick paced zydeco beat, Landreth again shelves the slide for straight picking and sings “Drive into the sun/sinking down the road/Feel our wheels in motion/that’s when I know/that the road to freedom/is the road we’re on.” Landreth says “Juke Box Mama” was written after the disc was in the can. It just came to him and told him it had to be added on. It’s an acoustic slide-style number that reminds of Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo, which is to say it’s mesmerizing – which pretty much sums up “The Road We’re On.” This is a big treat.
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