To Tulsa and Back

To Tulsa and Back

4.5 2
by J.J. Cale
     
 

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It's been more than eight years since J. J. Cale last released a studio album, but given the scope of his half century in the musical realm, that's nothing more than a short breather. On this disc -- named so as to reflect the singer-guitarist's hometown return -- Cale doesn't depart significantly from the burnished dirt-road sound that's characterized his output

Overview

It's been more than eight years since J. J. Cale last released a studio album, but given the scope of his half century in the musical realm, that's nothing more than a short breather. On this disc -- named so as to reflect the singer-guitarist's hometown return -- Cale doesn't depart significantly from the burnished dirt-road sound that's characterized his output for decades. The laid-back, flirtatious "My Gal" and "Chains of Love" are both veined with the grizzled guitar work that marked his classic '70s offerings. There's a bit more heft than usual to his lyrics this time around, notably the aching "Stone River," an environmental paean that only someone who's spent a good bit of time outside the reach of urban sprawl could've penned, and "The Problem," an atypically agitated take on societal difficulties. Proving that, even at the age of 65, he's capable of learning some new tricks, Cale busts out the banjo for the earthy "Blues for Mama" and proves himself just as adept -- and just as smooth -- on that instrument as on his axe of choice. Since he's never actually abandoned them, it wouldn't be accurate to say that J. J. Cale is getting back to his roots here; getting him back to Tulsa, however, infuses the disc with a warm, homey vibe that's altogether intoxicating.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
On his first studio outing in eight years, the mythical Okie troubadour turns in a solid set of his trademark dusty blues tunes. What is not so typical, as with Travel Log from 1990, is that Cale steeps himself in technology and evokes the moods and frameworks of music that intersect with the blues or stand in opposition to them. The keyboards, drum loops, and horns on this record are as pervasive as the guitars. Needless to say, this requires an attitude adjustment on the part of the listener. This is not to say there aren't plenty of live musicians here; there are. It's just that the sheeny beats and clean synth lines feel odd when juxtaposed against the murky lyrics and Cale's wispy, smoke-weathered voice. His stinging Stratocaster lead lines, spare and razor taut -- especially when ringed with distortion -- are plentiful, as are his tight-knit song constructions. Standouts on this set include the new West funk of "New Lover," the shuffling "New Step," the skittering "The Problem," the delightfully rambling "Fancy Dancer," the burning road-dog rock of "Motormouth," and the jazzy, gypsy swing in "These Blues." There are a couple of ballads on the set that are unconventional, as well, in "Homeless," and in the beautiful "Blues for Mama." There is even a Latin track on "Rio" that feels more like a merengue than a samba. The album closes with Cale playing a lone banjo on "Another Song," a mournful Appalachian ballad that feels like it comes from out of the heart of the Dust Bowl, it's full of ghosts and shadows and aches with the weight and displacement of longing as history. A fine effort.
Rolling Stone - Christian Hoard
1/2 To Tulsa and Back is Cale's first record in eight years. It's also his best in fifteen.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/08/2004
Label:
Sanctuary Records
UPC:
0060768468726
catalogNumber:
84687

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

J.J. Cale   Primary Artist,Synthesizer,Banjo,Guitar,Vocals,Multi Instruments
Gary Gilmore   Bass,Bass Guitar
Jim Karstein   Drums
Christine Lakeland   Guitar
Jimmy Markham   Harmonica
Bill Raffenspeger   Bass,Bass Guitar
Walt Richmond   Keyboards
Don White   Guitar
Shelby Eicher   Fiddle,Mandolin
Rocky Frisco   Keyboards
Walter Richmond   Keyboards

Technical Credits

J.J. Cale   Composer
David Chapman   Engineer
David Teegarden   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Mike Kappus   Executive Producer
Bas Hartong   Executive Producer
Dana Brown   Engineer
Éric Pillault   Graphic Design
Charles Johnson   Producer
Mike Test   Producer

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To Tulsa and Back 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
MBWinters More than 1 year ago
Wonderful music....a blend of blues country and rock...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago