Tab Benoit The Sea Saint Sessions

Tab Benoit believes in "keeping it real,” preferring to record live versus allowing the studio to control his output. He remains loyal to himself and to his fans with this release. The Louisiana-born Benoit is a product of his unique environment, blending his brand of Delta blues with liberal splashes of Cajun spice to create something uniquely his. There are rough edges — the price of spontaneity — but there’s no disputing the genuine swamp-soaked soul that drips off this disc. Sea Saint Studios’ rich musical legacy (Allen Toussaint, Dr. John) adds colour, if not spirit, here while regular band-mates Carl Dufrene (bass) and Darryl White (drums) join guitarist Brian Stoltz (Neville Bros., Dr. John), Cyril Neville, George Porter Jr. (Meters, Earl King) and Big Chief Boudreaux (Wild Magnolias) for some magic moments. Stoltz’s funk guitar kicks Benoit into a spirited frenzy on "Baby Blue,” spurring Benoit into the beyond as the two guitarists spar, playfully, throughout "Hustlin’ Down In New Orleans.” "Boat Launch Baby” is all Cajun party with its driving pulse, illustrating Benoit’s brand of Cajun rock’n’blues while "Solid Simple Thing” and the original "What Have I Got to Do” work well with Benoit’s soulful rasp. The album’s best track pairs the talents of Cyril Neville to Benoit’s, delivering the song that is most loyal to the Sea Saint sound: "Plateen Man” explodes with Crescent City energy as the two singers drive each other onward, marrying the familiar Neville’s funk and R&B to Benoit’s patented raggedy, delightfully skanky-yet-soulful sounds. This disc is one of his best yet. (Telarc)