Since the assimilation of the Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks bands into the eleven-member Tedeschi Trucks Band, the group has worked, creatively speaking, non-stop. The band debuted with 2011's Revelator (Sony Masterworks) followed by the live set, Tedeschi Trucks Band Live: Everybody's Talkin' (Sony Masterworks, 2012), and its requisite tour, reviewed within these electrons.
The band releases its second studio recording with a hint that it has acquired its musical sea legs, forging ahead with a confidence gained from the success of its two previous releases. The result on Made Up Mind is music made by a band who has thoroughly integrated its myriad of influences seamlessly, and by doing so has created the evolution of those influences. While the blues are always in evidence, Made Up Mind, like the band's most recent tour, reveals a renewed focus on the Southern soul music produced by the Memphis-Muscle Shoals axis in the 1960s and '70s without the rote imitation of the style.
That is to say that pieces like "Do I Look Worried," "Part Of Me" and "It's So Heavy" honor the tradition without copying it. Tedeschi is a versatile singer equally adept at gut-bucket blues and polished Motown fare. Stax and Muscle Shoals falls between, providing Tedeschi a comfortable vehicle for her vocals. The band does not limit itself to Southern soul. The Woodstock variety performed by Sly and The Family Stone is in evidence on "Misunderstood," while "Whiskey Legs" throws out of Parliament-Funkadelic in a bluesy mood.
Made Up Mind sports several bone crushers in the title piece and "The Storm" where all eleven pieces reach a full gale wind and blow. Ubiquitous on the recording is Trucks' lead and slide guitar playing. Trucks proves to be the evolution of Duane Allman, taking what the masters played and expanding its palette considerably, well beyond those '60s and '70s recordings. Trucks' only instrumental peer is Sonny Landreth, whose slide guitar performance is technically of scientific proportions. What Trucks has that Landreth does not is Tedeschi, the vehicle to carry his talent into accessible realms. Like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, Landreth has failed to reach a larger audience specifically because of his technical abilities which, while impressive, translate less well into popular music.
With Made Up Mind, the Tedeschi Trucks band fully arrives with music well beyond what is being produced by peers the Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic and The Black Crowes. This music is the shape of traditional Southern rock, soul and R&B, all grown up.
Made Up Mind; Do I Look Worried; Idle Wind; Misunderstood; Part of Me
Whiskey Legs; It's So Heavy; All That I Need; Sweet And Low; The Storm; Calling Out