Friday, April 1, 2011

Sonny Landreth - The Road We're On - 2003.


Following a few years after Levee Town, an album tightly focused on a specific place and time, Landreth dedicates The Road We're On to the more intangible magic of the blues. The music this time scans a vast panorama, from the Texas shuffle of "All About You" and zydeco pulse of "Gone Pecan" through the tub-thump beat of some Bayou dive on "Juke Box Mamma." Aside from a couple of cuts on which he plays standard guitar, Landreth fills this album with wizardly slide work: A shimmering lick at the end of "A World Away" provides the most gorgeous sonic moment, though his extended jam on the environmental call to arms "Natural World" sustains a high level of intensity through several choruses. On most of these tracks Landreth performs in a raw trio setting, almost all the time recording live; on "Hell at Home" he even keeps the scratch vocal, rather than overdub a fresh version, because the four-beat groove, reminiscent of "Walking Blues" on Paul Butterfield's East-West, is so in-the-pocket. With more focus on the playing and less on studio polish than he's shown in years, Landreth affirms his mastery in all the feels of The Road We're On and, more importantly, reminds listeners that bottomless power still lives in the body of the blues.

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