Made Up Mind

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Sony, 2013

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Made Up Mind is to the current Tedeschi Trucks trilogy what Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom is to that franchise: not as good as the first or third one, but still Indiana Jones, and therefore still pretty cool.

Revelator was a powerful debut and 2016’s Let Me Get By is even better, making this one of the more impressive three-album runs in modern music, but while Made Up Mind shares DNA and the same motley cast of musicians and special guests, it’s a little less exciting or vital as the other two.

To be sure, “Made Up Mind” is an impressive album opener, a bluesy lick with attitude introducing the piece, Susan Tedeschi’s throaty voice (one of the best in rock music right now) coming into the speaker and then the fat bass line anchoring the piece in a dusty, smoky piece of America that resides in all our hearts, whether you’re in Boston or Memphis or Santa Clara. “Do I Look Worried” slows the tempo and sprinkles on some piano, horns and an expected excellent guitar solo for a swampy blues-rocker that you my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 experience, especially when Tedeschi sustains a wail for five seconds before the song fades out.

Her husband, Derek Trucks (former Allman Brother and son of Butch, also an Allman) shines alongside his wife on this disc, but his style is only partially inspired by his old band. About the only place it shows up is the closing solo to “Idle Wind,” which is solid but not inspired as a song until the horns and guitar take over for the “Ramblin’ Man”-inspired closing jam. “Misunderstood” introduces elements of funk and a dexterous vocal performance from Tedeschi – particularly during the bridge, where she shows a rare vulnerable side – and the song is fun if a bit long.

One of the great things about TTB is how the songs are well-written and not just vehicles to get to the obligatory solo. The band has obvious chops but chooses not to indulge them unless it’s in service of the song, which makes the enterprise seem like a true collective; witness how well the pieces of “Whiskey Legs” come together, how Tedeschi’s voice is as appealing and lived-in as denim, how Trucks’ efficient solos and background fills counterbalance his wife, and how the dueling guitar solos that close the song only enhance what has come before instead of overpowering it.

One can actually feel the weight of “It’s So Heavy,” but “All That I Need” reiterates themes heard elsewhere and the crawl of “Sweet And Low” doesn’t pack the punch of the other songs. But the band brings it home with the fantastic modern blues-rock of “The Storm” and its opposite, the front-porch acoustic guitar-only “Calling Out To You,” a reinforcement of the appeal of a simple but universal story and the power of folk music to create characters and themes that can be subtle and powerful.

Revelator introduced this band in a big way and Let Me Get By took the themes from that and this album to create something even better, and if you liked those two, you’ll like this one as well. It’s not completely flawless, particularly on the middle third of the disc, but there isn’t a moment where you don’t feel every ounce of sincerity and life from this band.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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