Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group
Susan Tedeschi was born in Boston, Ma. She released her debut album in 1995 but came to national attention with the release of “Just Won’t Burn” on Tone Cool Records in 1998. At the same time the Jacksonville Fl. guitarist Derek Trucks was achieving fame with his sophomore release 1998’s “Out of the Madness”. Trucks joined the Allman Brothers Band in 1999 and the pair first met in New Orleans when Tedeschi was the Allman’s opening act during their summer tour. They were married in December of 2001.
Tedeschi’s vocals have been described as being similar to both Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin while her guitar playing is influenced by Buddy Guy and Johnny “Guitar” Watson”. Between 2000 and 2010 Tedeschi’s five solo albums resulted in her receiving five Grammy Award nominations.
The Washington Post once described Truck’s guitar playing as a cross between Duane Allman and saxophonist John Coltrane. The Derek Trucks Band won a Grammy for their 2009 album “Already Free”.
Although the pair appeared on each others recordings the sparks really started to fly when they permanently joined forces to become the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010. The band’s debut recording “Revelator” won a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album in 2012. The band also won four Blues Music Awards; two for “Rock Blues Album of the Year” and two for “Band of the Year”. The duo also received a 2016 Americana nomination; and their last album, 2017’s “Live From the Fox Oakland”, received another Grammy nomination.
This is the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s fourth studio recording and sixth album overall. The twelve piece Grammy winning band includes Tedeschi, guitar and vocals; Trucks, guitar; the late Kofi Burbridge (Sept. 22, 1961 – Feb. 15, 2019) keyboards and flute; Kebbi Williams, saxophone; Ephraim Owens, trumpet; Elizabeth Lea, trombone; Tim LeFebvre, bass; Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson, drums and percussion; and additional vocalists Mike Mattison, Alecia Chakour and Mark Rivers. “Signs” is a total band effort as the eleven originals are composed by its members with additional contributions from Doyle Bramhall II, Warren Haynes and Oliver Wood. The album was produced, recorded and mixed by Trucks, Jim Scott, and Bobby Tis at Trucks’ Swamp Raga Studios at his home in Jacksonville.
“Signs, High Times” is written by Burbridge, Trucks, Tedeschi, Mattison and LeFebvre. All of the band’s vocalists share the lead while the three piece horn section wails. The band celebrates life with a message of re-assurance on the fantastic “I’m Gonna Be There…through the thunder and the rain” co-written with Bramhall; while the beauty of life is further extolled on Mattison’s “Strengthen What Remains” beautifully sung by Tedeschi. On these latter two the production is completed with the addition of a string section.
“Walk Through This Life” is composed with Haynes and again features the horns and another fabulous production; this time highlighted by Burbridge’s piano, Lefebvre’s bass and the drummers. “Shame” stresses the band’s emotional frustration over environmental concerns with the lyric “Shame, there’s poison in the well” and continues on to ask the questions “Where are we going?” and “What’s in the air?”
“When Will I Begin” is another strong vocal from Tedeschi, once again featuring the strings. “Still Your Mind” is co-authored by Trucks and Burbridge. “They Don’t Shine” co-written by Mattison and Kristina Train features a rockin’ vocal from Tedeschi with some great guitar from Trucks.
Some songs honor loss as they echo a goodbye to Butch Trucks, Gregg Allman, Leon Russell, and especially Col. Bruce Hampton. “The Ending”, co-written with Wood, details Hampton’s final moments onstage as he collapsed during the encore to his 70th birthday event. A sparse arrangement and poignant vocal causes Trucks to reflect “without Susan’s voice…the emotion she conveys…that’s something you just can’t fake”.
Tedeschi adds “Derek is such a great leader…he’s an old soul who is passionate and gifted, one of the best guitarists in the world. He’s a big reason why this thing works. He gives the people the confidence that they can succeed”. At the time of the albums release the first single “Hard Case” was already #1 on the Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Blues Song Chart.
Tedeschi continues “We are very lucky to do what we do, and take responsibility for creating something positive to counter all the negativity, we have to deal with tragic circumstances at times. As a musician I feel it’s my job to…offer inspiration with passion in my voice and a smile on my face. That’s the only way you can give people hope, through motivation and positivity.”
Derek states “this is the first record I’ve made where, when I listen to it, it puts me in a specific place; it puts me in a zone and hits some raw nerves. People may not necessarily know about chord changes and how to articulate an arrangement, but they know what matters and when you mean it.”
This is another award winning album. The genre defying Tedeschi Trucks Band mixes their bittersweet ballads with driving rock and roll.