Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Deep Deep Blue reviewed by Mark Thompson

Deep Deep Blue
Dudley Taft
Taft Enterprises L.L.C.
11 tracks/48:55

After a lengthy stint as a member of Sweet Water, a band that toured with Alice in Chains, guitarist Dudley Taft turned back to his roots, embracing the blues music that first inspired him at a younger age. On his previous release, Left For Dead, Taft’s energetic performances and blazing guitar work showed that he had successfully mixed blues influences with a decidedly hard-rock mentality.

He offers more of the same right from the start on his latest project, with a muscular beat powering Bob Dylan’s “Meet in the Morning” while the guitarist punctuates his rough-hewn voice with some impressive guitar work. “The Waiting” is a full-speed-ahead rocker with some sharp sting-bending from the leader.  On “God Forbid”, Taft brings back a character introduced in the title track from his previous recording and provides background information on how the protagonist ended up the in such dire straits. The tortured cries from Taft’s guitar ride a slower, grinding rhythm as he lays out the story centered on the Old West.

Other musicians on the disc include John Kessler on bass, three drummers – Chris Leighton, Scott Vogel and Jason Patterson – plus Eric Roberts on keyboards and Ashley Christiansen on backing vocals. The band is at its best on a rousing cover of Lou Reed’s “Sally Can’t Dance” behind the leader’s exuberant vocal and snarling guitar tone. The title song is full of yearning and angst as Taft longs for a missing lover before losing him in a torrential outbreak on the guitar. “Feeling Good Now” has a dance-floor groove and shows Taft has recovered and is ready to enjoy what life has to offer.

Taft breaks out his acoustic guitar for the opening segment on “Wishing Well’. The band kicks in by the chorus; the leader grabs his electric guitar and treats listeners to another solo that builds to blistering intensity before he shifts back to the acoustic for some delicate picking to close the track. This song along with three others that follow –“Satisfy You”, Bandit Queen” and “Shanks Akimbo” – fail to maintain the momentum from the first half of the disc. Taft sounds convincing but the tracks start to sound the same and the generic lyrics fail to generate any excitement. There is a full-throttle tribute to one of Taft’s main inspirations, Freddie King, on “Palace of the King”, complete with a driving beat and some riveting guitar runs.

This one has its moments but ultimately falls short of the consistency of performances that made Left For Dead a great listen. Cuts like “Sally Can’t Dance” prove that when all the pieces come together, he can rock with the best of them. It’s getting tougher to garner attention in the crowded blues/rock category. Dudley Taft certainly has the necessary skills and once he comes up with a program that matches his talent, it will be hard for listeners to ignore him. In the meantime, there’s still plenty of hard rockin’ music – so check it out if you are so inclined.

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

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