Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Doctors, Devils & Drugs reviewed by Mark Thompson

Doctors, Devils & Drugs
Floyd Lee Band
Amogla Records
9 tracks/36:27

The recording sessions for this disc were an integral part of the documentary film, Full Moon Lightnin’ (see page 11). Five of the tracks are included on the audio soundtrack disc that is packaged with the DVD version of the film. Guitarist Joel Poluck wrote all of the songs, sharing co-writer credit on one, as well as serving as the producer. Leader Floyd Lee handles all of the vocals, Brad Vickers plays bass and acoustic guitar with Steve Pozzelanti on drums and washboard.

Many of Poluck’s tunes deal with his emotional turmoil during his partner Nella’s losing battle with cancer. His music is rooted in the blues tradition of the Mississippi hill country, Lee’s birthplace. But there is also an edge to the band’s sound, particularly when Poluck is playing slide on his lap steel guitar. Lee has a powerful and expressive voice that can be heard over the surging band as well as handling more delicate phrasing when called for, as on the acoustic rendition of “Bird With a Broken Wing”. Other highlights include “Blues is a Beautiful Woman”, with Lee singing and moaning with authority - and the opening cut, “Empty Well”, as Poluck seems to try to exorcise all of his demons through his lap steel guitar. “Nella” is a brief, touching tribute to Poluck’s lost love.

This recording stands on it’s own merits but certainly takes on several additional layers of meaning if listeners have viewed the film, which provides a stark look at Lee and Poluck’s struggles to deal with the vicissitudes of life. Both men cling to healing power that music offers them and both manage to find their way through the heartache and pain by sharing it with the rest of us on this recording.

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