Tedeschi Trucks Band ‘Revelator’ Album Review

Susan Tedeschi, one of the most soulful and talented blues vocalists around, has teamed up with her husband Derek Trucks, one of the best guitarists in the world, (both of them Grammy nominees in 2010) to produce an exciting collaborative album, Revelator, that features a simmering and scorching 11-piece band. This is bound to be one of the Must Have albums of 2011.

A few words about the famed blues couple. Susan Tedeschi’s voice has been described as a blend of Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin which she maintains is not surprising given that both have been her influences on her. Her guitar playing is influenced by Buddy Guy, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddie King and Doyle Bramhall II. And as for Derek Trucks, his soloing ability has been lauded by everyone in the biz for years. He’s been described as “the most awe-inspiring electric slide guitar player performing today. Some say he’s surpassed his masters and mentors. He’s been a co-leader of the Allman Brothers Band in recent years, and was the 2010 Grammy Winner for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

Susan and Derek have been married for about ten years and have two children, one named for the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker and the other named for Naima Coltrane, who was John Coltrane’s wife. Susan and Derek have performed together at a number of festivals, and have for the most part laid aside their individual careers to concentrate on the Tedeschi-Trucks Band, for which they have written original material. Derek will continue to play co-lead for The Allman Brothers Band, but a greater part of his focus will be on making this collaboration with his wife a success.

Delta blues and Memphis soul, Sixties rock and Seventies funk; you’ll hear all of this and more in their music. And as for their backup musicians, they have assembled an impressive collection of talent: Brothers Oteil Burbridge (noted for his years as bassist with the Allman Brothers Band) and Kofi Burbridge (longtime keyboardist/flutist with The Derek Trucks Band) have joined forces with a pair of drummers J. J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell, trumpeter Maurice Brown, tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams, trombonist Saunders Sermons, and harmony singers Mark Rivers and Mike Mattison. (Additionally, Ryan Shaw and David Ryan Harris supplied harmony vocals to various tracks on the album, and Alam Khan adds his masterful sarod playing to “These Walls”.)

Susan has been on the music scene for fifteen years and more and has opened for such acts as The Rolling Stones. Her voice is a gospel-trained miracle and her guitar playing is highly competent, but the addition of Derek Trucks and a large ensemble behind her has brought out the best in her. It’s also done wonders for Derek Trucks in that his former extended solos have been reimagined into both more compact and more expressive playing. It’s obvious that this husband-and-wife team brings something special to the stage and to the recording studio.

Trucks co-produced the album with multi-Grammy-winning engineer Jim Scott, whose genre-bending credits include popular albums by the Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Both Tedeschi and Trucks co-wrote the album’s twelve new songs with an impressive list of experienced songwriters, including Jeff Trott, John Leventhal, David Ryan Harris and Sonya Kitchell; Gary Louris and Oliver Wood—of the Jayhawks and the Wood Brothers, respectively; and old friends like guitarists Doyle Bramhall II and Eric Krasno (of Soulive), and band members Mike Mattison, Kofi Burbridge and Oteil Burbridge.

“Few bands… hold on to that element of surprise. One moment could be a train wreck but the next, it’s church.” ~ Derek Trucks

“Everyone is an amazingly accomplished musician who is able to listen intensely and react with their own soulful music at the drop of a hat.” ~ Susan Tedeschi