The Derek Trucks Band

Sony, 2006

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


This month’s retrospective confused me to a certain degree. Were we honoring those who made the guitar the prominent instrument of the 20th century, or were we acknowledging the best players out there? Hell, what about those who just flat out “rock”? Luckily for me, those questions mattered very little once I finished Songlinesmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 .

Derek Trucks is a relative unknown though his recent spot on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine as one of the “New” Guitar Gods should help get his name out there. The fact that he’s also a member of the Allman Brothers Band should give an indication of his talent level.

Songlines is not a great album per se; it does drag in sections. Some of the blame must be directed at Trucks, given that this is his band. While the quality of the playing is never in question, the songs themselves sometimes fail to measure up. However, I’m willing to overlook the specific weaknesses in favor of the multiple strengths. When it comes down to it, Trucks has cojones.

Think of Songlines as a Jackson Pollock work; throwing anything onto the canvas and seeing if it works. Blues (“Crow Jane”), world (“Mahjoun”), reggae (“Sailing On”), and yes, rock are just some of the genres, and each is as convincingly performed as the next. The change from, say, the Indian-flavored “Sahib Teri Bandi – Maki Bandi” to the pure swamp-blues “Chevrolet” can be quite jarring, but it’s obvious Trucks wanted to explore as many musical genres as possible.

The Derek Trucks Band is clearly comprised of seasoned vets; each musicians knows their part and plays it, leaving the spotlight to shine on the man himself. Unfortunately, that willingness to cede the spotlight detracts from the notion of a unified band. As for Trucks, unlike modern guitarists who think speed = talent, he understands that sometimes the most powerful kind of playing is restrained. I cannot recall an instance on the album where he just goes into a face-melting solo, yet I did not miss its presence.

Here’s a man you do not want to forget or ignore. Trucks is clearly driven, and has the talent to back it up. Give him some time to truly hone his craft, and the results will be monstrous.

Rating: B

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