Tedeschi Trucks Band's debut, Revelator (Sony Masterworks, 2010), was a marvel of modern blues-rock. Songs deeply rooted in genre tradition ultimately comprised a deeply felt personal statement by the dual leaders of the group, guitarist Derek Trucks and vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi.
The group's sophomore album, Made Up Mind, not surprisingly, radiates an even more mature sense of style. Placing the title song first may seem an obvious ploy to set a tone, but the sequencing works: Tedeschi's singing, as much as it recalls a young Bonnie Raitt, is nevertheless potent in its delivery, while Trucks' solo reaffirms the point of the lyrics. The slightest touch of horns, emblematic of the band's innate sense of restraint, adds decoration that further distinguishes the track.
The audio quality of the recording, overseen by Trucks as he co- produced with Jim Scott (then preserved by Bob Ludwig's mastering), punctuates the authority within the musicianship. The bond of the remaining ten-piece unit is perhaps more impressive here than on the debut album if only because, in the wake of the departure of bassist Oteil Burbridge, various players (including Pino Palladino and Dave Monsey) assume that role; the synchronous motion of the group is remarkable as it moves in unison on "Do I Look Worried."
There's a palpable confidence in the band's playing, too, which no doubt accounts for the bravery by which it moves beyond the constraints of style otherwise dictated by the horn-augmented lineup. "Idle Wind," for instance, would work as a folk song were it an unadorned acoustic track, yet it becomes a densely arranged thing of beauty as keyboardist Kofi Burbridge's flute breezes in behind the lead vocal, only to usher in gentle horn lines, all of which becomes wrapped in the sinuous guitar embroidery that weaves in around and through the other sounds.
Recorded in Trucks and Tedeschi's "Swamp Raga" home studio, Made Up Mind is a recording with all the continuity and logic an album should evince (and to which its ornate triple-gatefold digipak hearkens). The slightly funk-derived "Misunderstood" is a sharp though not jarring gearshift, as it contrasts with the muted "Calling Out to You" that concludes the song sequence. During the course of the eleven numbers, instrumental textures contrast each other as TTB functions with the ease derived from its constant roadwork. But even so, nothing sterile or antiseptic afflicts the musicians' interactions, even as tracks like the uplifting, gospel-tinted "Part of Me" are kept sufficiently abbreviated to prevent any playing without purpose.
On the contrary, the resonance of this band's sound here extends from the dual drumming of Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson (both of whom play with a light touch that belies the force of their impact) to the falsetto of vocalist Mike Mattison that lends an exultant quality to the track. Rather than the imminent collision depicted in the cover graphic, Made Up Mind is a work of pure and utter confluence of concept and execution.
Track Listing: 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
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