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The Derek Trucks Band: Already Free

Talk about laziness. Slide guitar genius Derek Trucks is pushing 30, and so far he's only worked as a professional musician for two decades — jamming with everyone from Santana to Buddy Guy — been the second axeman with uncle Butch's Allman Brothers Band and led his own little combo for six studio releases now. Somebody needs to light a fire under this guy's ass. In addition to being one his band's finest albums, Already Free is also easily Trucks' most concise. Musically, the sprawling jams and heavy jazz/Indian/Middle Eastern influences have dissipated in favor of a straight-ahead blues/rock-based sound ("Something to Make You Happy"). But Trucks's impeccable, stinging slide work, coupled with vocalist Mike Mattison's rough-hewn, emotion-drenched voice, makes it anything but pedestrian in a genre teeming with jaywalking violations. Just check out the lilting soul of "Days is Almost Gone," R&B showstopper "Get What You Deserve" gospel-tinged "Sweet Inspiration" and gentle, lush "Our Love." The latter two feature, respectively, blues singer/Trucks's wife Susan Tedeschi and Arc Angel Doyle Bramhall II, giving it a loose, family-affair feel. First single "Down in the Flood" covers Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes track, but Trucks's slower, grittier take transforms the number from a rollicking sing-along to something deeper, even more foreboding. Already Free may be a break with previous DTB records, but it's a worthy, continuing chapter in the musical and spiritual journey of the soft-spoken, blond-maned bandleader. (Note: the Best Buy exclusive of the CD features three bonus tracks, and the iTunes version another one.)

 
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