Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks: Bound for Glory
The gentle stride of “Midnight in Harlem,” with Derek’s slide threading through cushions of Hammond B3 and a shuffling backbeat, is a song of healing on the run from what hurt you. It is a prayer as it is much as a purge—the intimacy and vulnerability of owning the love you can’t kill is knee-buckling.
That intimacy is the result of deep support and trust which has grown over time. These are world-class musicians who’ve come together because their humanity fits.
“I knew there was an outside chance,” Derek explains of initial bid for his bride. “I’d told people, ‘I’m gonna be single ‘til I find someone whose record collection has Coltrane, Howlin’ Wolf and Mahalia Jackson—and then I met her.”
“And he introduced me to Sun Ra,” Susan adds, smiling.
“That Sun Ra move doesn’t work much,” Derek says sheepishly.
“We were both on the road 250 days a year,” says the girl who stole the slide guitarist’s heart. “We wanted to play together, but we were both trying to start careers— and I kept telling him I was too old for him.”
Here they are, two kids and two tour buses later, embarking on a musical journey together after making profound achievements marks on their own. That confidence and the journey are proven out in Revelator’s hybrid seamlessness.
Indeed, Revelator is spell-weaving. There’s the steeled beauty in the acoustic “These Walls,” that evokes John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery.” The New Orleans funeral horns that open “Until You Remember,” are a church-feeling witness to a love that’s burned out by the one who’s coping with being abandoned. Adult, honest, wide open and raw, the album’s emotional current is carried by the blues.
“I think the hardest solo I ever took was ‘Until You Remember’,” Derek confesses. “There’s this 20-second space and the melody is so beautiful. You just want to play guitar over it, but it’s not about playing over that—it’s about reflecting the emotion of it. The simplicity was daunting.”
Finding Zen in the arrangements was certainly a piece of the album’s puzzle. “There really wasn’t a wasted note,” Derek says. “Everybody came with so much heart and intention. If it’s not meant to be there, then it wasn’t there. A few things that stood out: the musicianship, Susan’s vocals and the intelligence of the band. We let the songs dictate what needed to happen and we really listened.”
Indeed, Susan’s voice gathers its strength from its clarity, evenness and ache.
Grammy-winning producer/engineer Jim Scott—who both drummers had worked with and endorsed for his laidback personality and strong sonic sense—aided the recording process. (Scott’s credits include work with Wilco, Lucinda Williams and Red Hot Chili Peppers, among many others.)
“The personality fit was immediate—he was easy,” says Derek. “He had the same recording console—a really late ‘60s Nieve that was built six months after ours. I could tell he was going to be a champion for Susan, because when you have a lead singer, they need to be the centerpiece.”
“He spent the time to get the right mic,” Susan validates, “and let me sing until I was happy as opposed to getting a few passed during tracking, then bringing me back after.”
Derek adds: “He was engaged. When he loved something, he was over the moon. When he didn’t, he [didn’t pull] punches, but wasn’t offensive. And he didn’t need to put his hands on things just to have his fingerprint on it.”
Scott also recognized the potential hazard of the band that Susan and Derek had assembled. Derek, with his long blond pony tail trailing down the back of his baggy Lightning Hopkins T-shirt, laughing acknowledges the added danger of the songwriting.
“The band is so good, you can fool yourself into thinking something’s way better than it is because they play so well,” Derek admits. “We realized we were gonna have to strip it all away—just me and Susan and an acoustic guitar and a songwriter. That was all. It had to be bare bones and holding water. If you can do that, then you can trust the songs.”
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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