Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Medicine reviewed by Steve Jones

Tab Benoit
Telarc Records
11 tracks

Tab Benoit is an iconic figure in the swamp pop/blues scene.  His heart and soul are bared for all to see in each of his performances, both live and on CD.  This new effort is another great effort and I was impressed with the playing by him and everyone on the CD.  Seven new songs grace this CD, co-authored by Benoit and Anders Osborne.

Sometimes you get a sort of mailed in effort on all-star recording sessions and other times you might see artists trying to one up each other.  Not here.  Benoit has assembled some great artists and they blend together with great musicality into a wonderful sound.  Recorded at Louisiana’s Dockside Studio and produced by David Z who has produced and engineered another great Benoit classic.  The artists here are obviously Tab Benoit on Guitar and Lead Vocals, Anders Osborne on Guitar and Background Vocals, Ivan Neville on Keyboards, Corey Duplechin on Bass, Michael Doucet on Fiddle and Vocals and Brady Blade on Drums.  Mostly recorded live on one take, this is a magical set.  Also to note, Osborne is using BB King’s Lucille on Medicine and half the CD’s tracks, adding a nice acoustical touch to the proceedings.

From the opening notes on the title track to the final cut Benoit gives us a good sampling of his gumbo enhanced Cajun guitar and vocal goodness.  “Medicine” opens with a slow, down home beat with a deep groove with Benoit and Osborne trading guitar licks that gets you ready for a fine set of tunes.  He keeps it low tempo as he transitions into “Sunrise”, a beautiful swamp ballad where Tab’s vocal art work will have the ladies eating out of his hand and the guys wishing they had just an minute bit of his magical mojo.  On “A Whole Lot of Soul” we get more of the throbbing, pulsating slow blues Benoit that delivers with great style.  There is also a nice, ringing guitar solos midway through that is hard not to love.  Benoit cuts loose on the fourth track with the driving beat of “Come and Get It”, a tune that will have them up on their feet and dancing at festivals this summer.

“Broke and Lonely” returns to a slower beat in a down tempo cut with some sad lyrics where he bemoans that “now when women see me they won’t even wave their hand”; obviously this is not a biographical piece, but it’s a cool little number.  Doucet’s fiddle come in on “Long Lonely Bayou” another slow and mournful song that is beautifully done.  Doucet gives a great performance here and on the other cuts he fills in on; the acoustic guitar work with the fiddle here is also quite haunting.  “In It to Win It” brings the tempo up to a medium beat, and Benoit speaks to us about being yourself and getting into the game of life to win it.  Doucet returns in “Can’t You See” and sets the stage for a cute down home track with a more country fried flavor.

Benoit returns back to the soulful ballad next with “Nothing Takes The Place of You”; he is obviously in his element here with heart throbbing vocals and guitar play.  The CD closes a little more upbeat with “Next to Me” and then certainly upbeat with “Mudboat Melissa”.  The final cut is another big-time dance tune with fiddle and big guitar sounds and gives the CD a rousing finish.

Benoits’ fans will eat this stuff up and newcomers to Tab will get a good representation of his talents.  I enjoyed this new album by Benoit; it is well worth adding to your collection if you are a fan of his and the Louisiana music scene.  It’s hard not to enjoy Tab’s work!  I also enjoyed hearing Anders Osbornes’ contributions here.  Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

No comments: