Wait For Me

Susan Tedeschi

Tone-Cool/Artemis Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/03/2003

When I've had a bad day (or week) nothing helps more on the long ride home than popping a blues disc in the old CD player. It's instant empathy, not to mention a good example - someone taking difficult emotions and making something beautiful out of them.

First, though, it must be said: Susan Tedeschi doesn't look like a great blues singer/guitarist. Even without the shot in the booklet of her holding her baby son, she looks more like the green-eyed soccer mom from down the street in Suburbia, USA. If, that is, said green-eyed soccer mom could sing like Bonnie Raitt and play guitar like Duane Allman… Yeah, this mom ROCKS.

Wait For Me is Tedeschi's follow-up to her much-heralded 1998 debut Just Won't Burn. Given that interval between albums, the title has something of a double meaning. But the wait has been worth it; this album has the kind of range, class and musical integrity most modern artists only dream about. She does hoot-and-holler blues-rock ("The Feeling Music Brings"). She does a wistful piano blues ("Wrapped in the Arms of Another"). On the title track, she does an alternately soaring and steamy lounge blues complete with a terrific horn chart and a solo that sounds like she's been possessed by the spirit of B.B. King.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"The Feeling Music Brings" also features Derek Trucks (Tedeschi's husband and sometime guitarist) playing some fabulous licks, moving in his long closing solo from hard, raunchy chords to jittery, intricate little patterns where he's almost massaging the strings (think Stevie Ray Vaughan). Trucks shines once again on "Gonna Move," a track that matches an introspective folk-rock lyric up with a heavy boogie beat and makes it sound like the most natural thing in the world (love that undulating bass line, too).

Tedeschi's range is amazing. One minute she's throwing down the deep funk with guest (and jam-band hero) Col. Bruce Hampton ("Hampmotized"). The next she's remaking Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" as a lilting, acoustic country-blues with a gorgeous organ solo. Sweet stuff, I tell you. For the rock and roll traditionalists in the room, there's also a guest shot from legendary piano man Johnnie Johnson, who reminds you how he and Chuck Berry give birth to a new musical genre on the rollicking roadhouse stomper "I Fell in Love."

Roughly half of these songs are Tedeschi's own compositions, including the shimmering, meditative "In the Garden," co-written with Tommy Shannon of Double Trouble. It's a natural musical match, a fact which is amplified a hundred-fold on this album's bonus track. I'm not a big fan of such add-ons normally; usually a song given such treatment doesn't really belong on the album at all. And you could make that argument here as well, but incongruity aside, when the last notes of the gentle closer "Blues on Holiday" faded out and I heard Double Trouble and Kenny Wayne Shepherd rip into the opening chords of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll," I knew I was in for a treat. Tedeschi is even miked like Robert Plant, with that echo-ey tone that lets her really cut loose and wail. It's a rousing encore to an excellent album.

Whether you've got the blues yourself, or just want to dose yourself with a little pre-emptive cure-all, I highly recommend both Susan Tedeschi and Wait For Me.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2003 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tone-Cool/Artemis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.