"Hope and Desire"
"Sweet Somewhere Bound"
Singer-songwriter and blues guitarist Susan Tedeschi seldom leaves the stage without performing John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery." Now that "Hope and Desire" is out, she has a lot more favorites to choose from -- a dozen, in fact.
It's hard to knock Tedeschi's tastes, what with Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Iris DeMent, Aretha Franklin and Fontella Bass among the artists represented on her new CD. But more impressive, Tedeschi doesn't sound out of her league. She sings with soulful authority, starting with the Rolling Stones' Delta-inspired shuffle "You Got the Silver" (the first of three cuts featuring Derek Trucks, Tedeschi's husband, on slide guitar or dobro).
Several songs resonate with Southern gospel harmonies (including the Dylan gem "Lord Protect My Child"), and Tedeschi has no trouble sustaining the right emotional pitch, whether the mood is inspired by gratitude (Stevie Wonder's "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever") or guilt (DeMent's "Sweet Forgiveness"), defiance (Redding's "Security") or despair (Percy Mayfield's "The Danger Zone"). True, she never unpacks her guitar, relying instead on her hubby and Doyle Bramhall Jr. to colorfully fill in the spaces. But the sound of Tedeschi unburdening herself should be more than enough to keep fans satisfied till the next batch of original songs comes along.
Singer-songwriter Jackie Greene's "Sweet Somewhere Bound" is getting a well-deserved second wind. Originally issued on an independent label and recently rereleased by Verve, the album is brimming with evidence of Greene's promise and versatility. Dylan's influence is unmistakable whenever Greene plays it deadpan ("I ain't no prophet / My landlord told me so," he sighs on "Don't Mind Me, I'm Only Dying Slow") or when he blows harp like a busker. What's also apparent, though, is Greene's flair for reconfiguring old blues riffs to suit his own purposes, as on the freewheeling "Seven Jealous Sisters," and his gift for cleverly (and single-handedly) orchestrating his curious tales or musings with guitars, piano, organ, synthesizer and drums.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Saturday at Rams Head Live in Baltimore and Sunday at the Birchmere.