Wait For Me – Susan Tedeschi
Tone Cool/Artemis Records 751146-2
Susan Tedeschi's newest release is full of echoes. From the horn-driven, Al
Green soul of the opener, "Alone", to the Otis Redding overtones of the
title track to the Chuck Berry swagger of "I Fell In Love", Tedeschi
channels the glory days of soul and rhythm and blues music, simultaneously
updating and paying tribute to the forerunners. More directly, Derek
Trucks, who appears twice, walks in the omnipresent shadow of Duane Allman,
and Tedeschi herself, perhaps unfairly, will walk beside the shade of Bonnie
Raitt for some time still.
Wait For Me is also full of good decisions. From the Mellotron on
Found You" to the violin on "In the Garden", the instrumentation is always
well-chosen and well-produced. "Alone", features ten musicians and never
bogs down. Each part feels integral to the rich and uncluttered whole. On
the other hand, "Wrapped In the Arms of Another", one of six tracks written
or co-written by Tedeschi, strips away the finery and finds her coupled with
Kofi Burbridge and his piano on a longing ballad that showcases the rich
timbre of Tedeschi's voice. In each case, the cast is carefully determined
by the nature of the song.
Finally, the disc if full of exceptional musicians. Jeff Sipe, always crisp
and tasteful, sits at the kit for five of the nine tracks with drums.
Johnnie Johnson who made a name for himself with Chuck Berry brings his
mighty, rollicking piano to bear on "I Fell In Love". Tommy Shannon
contributes with his pen if not his bass, co-scripting "In the Garden" with
Tedeschi. The Colonel himself comes ringing in with a flurrious solo on
"Hampmotized", the tale of a day hijacked by Col. Bruce. Paul Rishell and
Annie Raines arrive with acoustic guitar and blues harp in tow to stroll
through Rishell's "Blues On a Holiday", closing the album on a gentle and
intimate note. None of the above, however, have the impact of the Derek
Trucks band, joining Tedeschi in full for "Gonna Move" and "The Feeling
Music Brings". Each of these tracks breathes in ways the others don't.
There is an ease, a cohesion, a familiarity in the music that translates
into two of the discs best tracks, and the call and response between Trucks
on the latter track deserves special attention.
All these echoes, choices and talents wouldn't add up to a damn thing of
course if Tedeschi herself weren't such a talent. Wait For Me finds
Tedeschi comfortable in her own skin. Aside from some excessive "ohs!" and
"ahs!" on "Don Think Twice, It's Alright", she never over reaches. She
relaxed, content, and confident. Her voice resonates with such an genuine
honesty that it renders the cover ridiculous. The image, a close-up of
Tedeschi washed out in sepia tones with digitally touched up, sparkling
green eyes suggests a polish and a false refinement that belies the gritty
authenticity of the music itself. The album cover suggests a woman trying
hard to impress. The music within doesn't try to impress. It just does.