Fans and musicians across the country are aware of Bruton's guitar and producing work. They've been hearing it since 1971, when a songwriter named Kris Kristofferson, recruited a fresh-faced guitarist from Texas named Stephen Bruton.
As a youngster, Bruton grew up working in his parent's record store (which still does business in Fort Worth), where he learned some early lessons about musical tolerance. Imagine listening to the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Liberace, Yascha Heifitz and George Jones, and how this constant bombardment must have influenced and educated the young songwriting prodigy about the art of a well-written song. His father was a decent jazz drummer, who was from the "Duke Ellington" school of music, which is there's only two kinds of music, good or bad.
Before long, he and a teen-aged T-Bone Burnett were fooling around in Burnett's primitive home studio, and Bruton and Delbert McClinton were honing their chops on dawn-thirty farm-and-ranch programs on the local television stations.
Bruton, who use to play at bluegrass fiddle conventions on the weekends where he was the house guitar player, plays his blues like country music with a backbeat, the soundtrack for that landscape of the imagination where Hank Williams sat in with Muddy Waters.
After years on the road and a final two-year stint as Bonnie Raitt's lead guitarist, Bruton took the leap into the center spotlight with the 1993 release of his first solo album, "What It Is." After 1995's "Right On Time," Bruton took some time off to recharge and write songs for "Nothing But the Truth," which was released in 1998.
Highlights include the techno-Jimmy Reedish "Everything Happens for a Reason," the propulsive "Trip, Stumble and Fall," confessional interludes such as "Against My Will" and "King of Everything," as well as the dreamy, atmospheric "When Love Finds You."
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.