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by The Derek Trucks Band

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Perhaps best known for his work with the Allman Brothers Band -- where he plays alongside his drummer uncle, Butch -- guitarist Derek Trucks has quietly established himself as one of his generation's most intuitive and most wildly all-encompassing players. That's definitely the tone set on his first studio set with his own band in


Perhaps best known for his work with the Allman Brothers Band -- where he plays alongside his drummer uncle, Butch -- guitarist Derek Trucks has quietly established himself as one of his generation's most intuitive and most wildly all-encompassing players. That's definitely the tone set on his first studio set with his own band in more than three years. While Trucks has often been likened to the late Duane Allman -- thanks to his expressive, fierce slide work -- he doesn't riff quite as rock-centrically as that forebear. Rather, he uses the blues as a jumping-off point for all manner of experimental forays, most spectacularly on a version of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's free-jazz statement of purpose "Volunteered Slavery," which he transliterates from reeds to six-string with aplomb. A take on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's "Sahib Teri Bandi" -- stretched here to the ten-minute mark -- proves Trucks to be just as adept in the realm of world music, which he approaches with a winning mix of reverence and envelope-pushing attitude. The 26-year-old guitarist's original compositions understandably don't have quite the heft of those tracks, but Trucks does muster plenty of soul on cuts like the liquid "Mahjoun" and the acoustic blues "Chevrolet." In his notes to the disc, Trucks cites aboriginal tradition when explaining its title, which would seem like pretense if he didn't do such a good job of anchoring his playing in the primordial. A truly spectacular outing.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
This is, perhaps, the one. Derek Trucks has been on an aesthetic quest for something since he began his own recording career in 1997 -- apart from his membership in the Allman Brothers Band. Each record has gone further into establishing Trucks not only as a slide guitar wizard (that happened when he was still in his teens), but also as a serious songwriter, fine arranger, and bandleader. The Derek Trucks Band, as evidenced by the release of 2003's Soul Serenade, is a unit -- a band -- whose core has been together for eight years. They create an atmosphere, a sound, a musical sense of place and community. On Live at the Georgia Theater (available only on the Internet), the DTB performed with new vocalist Mike Mattison, who gave them something they needed: a strong, utilitarian presence that could be as diverse and adventurous as the band was musically. This album's title, Songlines, was inspired by the late author Bruce Chatwin's description of aboriginal creation myths. According to these myths, the world was sung into existence by totemic elder beings who wandered the Australian continent along invisible pathways. These were later known as "songlines" because by singing out the names of everything -- trees, flowers, streams, animals, clouds, earth -- they breathed form, order, and beauty into a world that was being born. The DTB try to express something similar on their first real studio recording with assistance by producer Jay Joyce. This album was not recorded trying to capture a live performance in the confines of a studio. There are no tracks here that give way to loose jamming; these are songs. In fact, it was carefully crafted and executed. But the rawness, the energy, and the unpredictable musicality are everywhere present. They are there in the brief read of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Volunteered Slavery" and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's "Sahib Teri Bandi/Maki Madni," both of which are live staples, and the slippery read of Toots Hibbert's "Sailing On" -- but also in the raw, rangy American street blues of "Chevrolet," by Lonnie and Ed Young, and the low-down seductive vintage funky R&B in "All I Do." Kofi Burbridge's Hammond B-3 and keyboard work create a center for Trucks and the formidable rhythm section of drummer Yonrico Scott, percussionist Count Mbutu, and Todd Smallie on in-the-pocket bass. The originals on the set are leaner, meaner, and more down in the groove -- check out the group vocal chants on the refrain of "Revolution," as Trucks slips and slides over them. The skittering funky organ lines and Trucks' twinned slide riff and edgy fills give "All I Do" its slippery backbone-dropping groove. "Majoun" (a Moroccan word for pot) is the kind of drifting, Eastern-tinged jazz that the band is known for playing live. And the fascination with the East doesn't end there. In the soul and gospel-drenched declamatory prayer "I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel to Be Free)," there is some fine Dobro work by Trucks and Burbridge's upright piano strides it out, before Trucks brings out the electric again and lets it slowly tear through the verse and chorus accompanied by handclaps. It's deeply moving. The set closes with "This Sky," a gently evolving open modal tune. Trucks' guitar is tuned to whole tones and he explores the mode thoroughly yet softly, mannered until he finds its bottom where bass, drums, the B-3, and percussion slip in to carry the tune. And as Mattison enters with the lyric (some of it by the Sufi poet Hafiz), the listener is already hooked in the image of the story, of suffering lovers who should be dancing in the ecstasy and beauty of the sky where they live. Songlines is the finest moment in the Derek Trucks Band's recording career. It's a fully mature, deeply reckoned studio album that bears repeated listening to reveal all its subtlety and the beauty of its creation.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Derek Trucks Band   Primary Artist
Jay Joyce   Keyboards
Count Mbutu   Percussion,Conga,Group Member
Yonrico Scott   Percussion,Drums,Vocals,Group Member
Derek Trucks   Dobro,Guitar,Group Member
Kofi Burbridge   Flute,Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Todd Smallie   Bass,Vocals,Group Member
Mike Mattison   Vocals,Group Member

Technical Credits

Giles Reaves   Engineer
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan   Composer
Rahsaan Roland Kirk   Composer
Darryl Carter   Composer
Toots Hibbert   Composer
Jay Joyce   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Don Robey   Composer
Yonrico Scott   Composer
Billy Taylor   Composer
Derek Trucks   Composer
Josh Cheuse   Art Direction
Kofi Burbridge   Composer
Dick Dallas   Composer
Lonnie Young   Composer
Jason Hall   Engineer
Mike Mattison   Composer
Bruce Chatwin   Author
Jeff Wood   Cover Design,Cover Illustration
Blake Budney   Management

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