FAME Review: Brad Absher and Swamp Royale - Lucky Dog
Brad Absher and Swamp Royale - Lucky Dog

Lucky Dog

Brad Absher & Swamp Royale

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Brad Absher and his ensemble may be blues cats, but they're through and through Southern blues with a capital 'S', as in Southern rock, as soaked to the bone as the Allmans, Lynyrd, Black Oak, and all those bad boyz, just not so amplified. In the promo lit, this style is described as 'swamp pop', as good a moniker as any I've heard, and with which I have no argument. Now toss in some David Bromberg (I've loved that guy's work since a college roomie turned me onto his version of Mr. Blue), some Elvin Bishop, a bit of Chuck Leavell (Sea Level, Allmans, Stones, etc.), a church by the bayou, and the various whatnots which compose and exemplify the soul of what lies below the Mason-Dixon line, and you, o fortunate canine, know how to listen to Lucky Dog.

The dancey and lo-key boogie-esque take on Bill Withers' Same Love is a great intro to the white soul of guitar player/leader Absher and his smoothly funky base unit, way-the-hell hip co-producer Larry Fulcher's constantly perambulating bass underwriting the lads, Nicoya Prolar adding a heavenly get-me-to-the-sermon-on-time chorus. Barry Seelens steps out like a muthuhfukka on Hammond in his solo to I Can't Wait and elsewhere, doubling up on the Leavell Factor, and Absher's wail in William Bells' confessional Miss Your Water owes much to Brother Leon Russell (whose classic I'd Rather be Blind is covered as well). It's a high point in this collection of exceptionally comfortable tunes (especially if'n ya happens to have a fifth of joy juice to hand) and, as I inferred, demonstrates that these guys haven't missed a thing in their region's hyacinth-scented artworks, reprising, encapsulating, and enlarging upon the oeuvre.

This is the kind of music that turned me on to Elvin, James Montgomery, Paul Butterfield, and a raft of others, and I'm happy as all get out that Abher 'n clan are so damned pinpoint excellent in keeping the sound alive and well, hail and hardy, kickin' 'n grinnin'. Everything that's not a cover in Lucky Dog was written by Brad, and it's all solid as a boulder. Then Fulcher puts so much flesh on already muscled bones that the CD is as infectious as a Mardi Gras drunknacious celebration. Yessiree, kinda makes me wanna play it from start to finish again, 'specially since I have a bottle of rye handy and plenty of time, soooooo, yeh, I think that's just what I'll do. And, please, someone make sure that Duke Robillard gets ahold of a copy of this gem. As busy as that guy is, he's never too caught up to miss something of this caliber.

Track List:

  • Woman Who Loves Me (Brad Absher)
  • I Need a Drink (Brad Absher)
  • Same Love (Bil Withers)
  • I Can't Wait (Brad Absher)
  • Miss Your Water (William Bell)
  • Wanna Be Your Man (Brad Absher)
  • Rather Be Blind (Leon Russell)
  • Not Tonight (Brad Absher)
  • Lipstick Traces (Allen Toussaint)
  • Jesus On the Mainline (traditional)
  • Trouble (Fulcher / Braunagel)
  • Memphis On the Way (Brad Absher)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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