Derek Trucks Band: Already Free (CD review)

Derek Trucks possesses one of the most expressive, intriguing and pliable instrumental voices of any genre.

He’s a young but already deeply accomplished musician with great, reliable instincts, and an impressive ability to adapt to nearly any musical context – blues, rock, R&B, jazz, gospel, funk, Middle Eastern forms.

Expectations are that his just-released Already Free will connect, in a major way, with old fans as well as those who have become acquainted with the former child prodigy through his recent playing with the likes of Eric Clapton, Santana, and McCoy Tyner.

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Here’s my review, as published in Las Vegas City Life.

Below is the full text:

Derek Trucks Band

Already Free (Sony Legacy)

Derek Trucks’ playing on bottleneck-slide guitar is a thing of beauty — sometimes, sweet, sometimes salty, an instrumental voice that’s remarkably expressive. That sound, a welcome guest on recent tours and recordings by everyone from Eric Clapton to jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, is front and center on Already Free.

Allman Brothers guitarist Trucks, nephew of Allmans drummer Butch Trucks, grew up on that band’s brand of hard-grooving Southern rock ‘n’ soul, and for his most accomplished studio recording yet, he successfully carries on the tradition. The sound is decidedly retro and warmly familiar, although Indian instruments spice the textures on the acoustic “Back Where I Started,” with Trucks’ wife Susan Tedeschi singing, and Big Maybelle’s “I Know.”

Doyle Bramhall II guests on the Southern-fried R&B of “Maybe This Time.” Raspy voiced singer DTB Mike Mattison effectively leads the attack on most other tunes, including a version of Bob Dylan’s “Down in the Flood” that’s all slow-simmering dirty boogie. “These Days is Almost Gone,” with Kofi Burbridge’s churchy organ underscoring soulful backing vocals and rising horns, sounds like a Saturday night in the Southland bumping into Sunday morning. Feels just right.