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CD Review: Susan Tedeschi's Back to the River



The Deal: Blues songstress, wife of Derek Trucks, returns with album of originals.

The Good: Tedeschi didn't hesitate to find herself a fine group of guests for her latest effort – Trucks, The Jayhawks' Gary Louris and The Allman Brothers' Doyle Bramhall II among them. Trucks appears on four of the 11 tracks to provide slide guitar and produced and co-wrote "Butterfly" with his wife. Tedeschi's voice is as fine as ever with the right hint of rasp to give her music a punching blues vibe and emotional, soul atmosphere – the album has the right touch of horns throughout, as well. It's nice to see Tedeschi return to songwriting after the departure of Hope and Desire, an album of cover songs. While that album focused on Tedeschi's vocals, this one lets the guitar shine but doesn't distract from the power of her voice. It's a return to the Susan of old – the one that appeared on the first three albums.

The Bad: While the groove of "Butterfly" is great, that opening riff sure sounds a lot like Peter Frampton.

The Verdict: Her voice and guitar work shred the face of blues and roots music. About as close to Janis Joplin as you'll get while maintaining some dignity and individuality.

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