Published Jan 27, 2016It's tough for great live bands to use the studio to their advantage. The Grateful Dead pretty much never figured it out, and the Allman Brothers were only sporadically successful. Some groups just need the energy of the stage, the volatility of spontaneous improvisation, the thrill of stepping into the wind on a high wire without a net to catch your fall to really shine. Otherwise, it just sounds hollow.
Then there's the Tedeschi Trucks Band, arguably the best live act working today, and completely in command of the studio on this, their third studio album. Like a Venn diagram of Americana, the TTB operate at the intersection of Delta blues, New Orleans funk, Memphis soul, Texas country and Southern rock — this 12-piece band pulls just about everything they can find into their orbit. It helps that these top-flight musicians seem to be able to ace just about anything that they touch, regardless of genre.
Though not every song on this overlong album is a winner — if the band has a weakness, it's in crafting enduring melodies — the bright, instinctive performances more than carry the thinner material. Check out the majestic gospel groove of "Hear Me," the deep midtempo sway of "Anyhow" and the jazzy thump of "Right On Time" (the latter featuring lyricist Mike Mattison on lead vocals). Few bands cultivate such diversity over an entire career, let alone on one album. (Fantasy)