"Wait for Me"
THE DEREK TRUCKS BAND
Susan Tedeschi's 1998 album "Just Won't Burn" won the Boston singer-guitarist a Grammy nomination as Best New Artist for its update of Bonnie Raitt's folk-blues sound. But it took Tedeschi four years to release a follow-up, in part because she took time to have a son with her new husband, Derek Trucks, the slide guitarist who joined his uncle Butch Trucks's group, the Allman Brothers Band.
Derek Trucks used his own quartet on the two tracks he produced for his wife's new album, "Wait for Me." Those two songs, the couple's co-written "The Feeling Music Brings" and Paul Pen~a's "Gonna Move," are the album's highlights because they grease Tedeschi's New England delivery with some Southern funk. She returns the favor by singing Joe Tex's "Baby, You're Right," the highlight of the Derek Trucks Band's latest album, "Joyful Noise." These collaborations sound so comfortable that one wishes the married couple would join forces permanently.
The other nine tracks on Tedeschi's album are respectable, for she possesses a powerful soprano, an appealing blues-mama persona and good taste in songwriters (she makes Tommy Sims's "Alone" sound like an Ann Peebles single and Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" sound like a "Music From Big Pink" outtake). But most of her own songwriting sounds like standard-issue bar-band fare.
The Derek Trucks Band boasts four terrific instrumentalists: the leader, keyboardist Kofi Burbridge (brother of Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge), bassist Todd Smallie and drummer Yonrico Scott. But none of them is a legitimate lead singer, and their earlier albums suffered from that weakness. The new disc solves the problem by using five guest singers on the six vocal tracks and filling the other four slots with beguiling instrumentals.
The vocalists include Tedeschi, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Solomon Burke, salsa star Ruben Blades, Pakistan's Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (nephew of Qawwali legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) and session singer Javier Colon. Burke is as overpowering as usual and Trucks finds a guitar part to link Qawwali music to the blues, but only Tedeschi sounds like a member of the group rather than a visitor. The band's secret weapon is Burbridge, who wrote two terrific instrumentals as well as the atmospheric soul ballad, "Like Anyone Else," for Burke.
-- Geoffrey Himes
Susan Tedeschi appearing Wednesday at Lisner Auditorium. The Derek Trucks Band appearing Wednesday at Rams Head Tavern and Thursday at the Birchmere. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Susan Tedeschi, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8109; to hear the Derek Trucks Band, press 8110. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)