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Susan Tedeschi - Back To The River

Back To The River

Susan Tedeschi

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A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb

This is arguably the best and the most adventurous disc Susan Tedeschi has done. She truly stretches her boundaries, while playing some of the best music she has recorded to this time. She wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 11 songs, and Allen Toussaint wrote the remaining song. The growth has really been most noticeable since her marriage to Derek Trucks, and playing with him and being exposed to that ever widening circle of top level musicians and songwriters that seem to flow around that Allman Brothers/Government Mule/etc cadre of people. This is a diverse group of musicians and songwriters that span decades and genres; from people such as Jimmy Herring and Tommy Talton to Ike Stubblefield, it is as wide-ranging a group as you will find. Not only has Susan's playing, singing made major strides but also her songwriting has grown by major leaps and bounds. On this disc she collaborates with such disparate writers as Tony Joe White, Gary Louris, John Leventhal, of course her husband and Doyle Bramhall II, all with great effect. Her ode, 700 Houses, which portrays the devastating events this country has seen in forms of weather related occurrences, is both stunning and shaming and hopeful all at the same time, and a beautiful and very effective song.

On this disc her band, which has evolved from the first recordings, stays with her on her blues based material, whether she chooses to venture into R & B, funk or gospel, she lets her voice come through with an emotional expressiveness that wasn't always there before (perhaps being a mother has added some of that). Listen to what she does with Can't Sleep At Night, the only song she wrote by herself on the disc. Whether the song is a shouter song, think Janis Joplin, or a more hushed number, here think either Bonnie Raitt or Toni Lynn Washington, she sculpts her voice to fit it beautifully. The band stays with her all the way and it sure doesn't hurt any little bit to have assisting her such heavy weights in the studio as Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II,. Least we forget her ability as a guitarist, she does the lead guitar work on most of the disc and she doesn't have to take a backseat to anyone. This is at times a raver and at others a touching homage to all that has come before her and made her the force she is still becoming. Back To The River is beautiful and touching piece of work that makes us eager for the next chapter.

Track List:

  • Talking About
  • 700 Houses
  • Back to the River
  • Love Will
  • Butterfly
  • People
  • Learning the Hard Way
  • Revolutionize Your Soul
  • True
  • Break in the Road (Allen Toussaint)
  • Can't Sleep at Night

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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