Following the major sales and airplay successes of Benoit's previous GRP outings, Shadows is a more conceptual album, a collection that perfectly fuses the hip-hop grooves introduced on Inner Motion's popular track "M.W.A," with a lush orchestral approach. All without losing sight of the spirited composing and playing style that made him one of smooth jazz's biggest stars. Helping bring Benoit and co-producer Marcel East's chemistry to life are friends old and new to the Benoit studio fold: guitarist Pat Kelley; bassists Neil Stubenhaus, Nathan East, and Jimmy Johnson; saxophonist Michael Paulo; drummers Jeff Porcaro and John Robinson; and percussionists Chris Trujillo, Michael Fisher, and Fattburger's Tommy Aros.
Tab Benoit's latest release on Telarc, Fever for the Bayou, continues in what has become Benoit's signature territory, a funky, ragged blend of Louisiana swamp blues and East Texas guitar, with hints of funk, soul, and country thrown in to give the gumbo just the right spice. If it sounds like a formula, well, Benoit's jagged guitar playing and increasingly soulful vocals make it clear that this is the music he loves, so it hardly matters. He touches a lot of bases here, including an eerie approximation of Elmore James' slide sound on a cover of James' "I Can't Hold Out" (which also features some cool tenor sax work from Jimmy Carpenter), then conjures Buddy Guy on Guy's "I Smell a Rat," fires up on the old Slim Harpo chestnut "Got Love if You Want It," and tears through a wonderfully swampy take on Levon Helm's "Blues So Bad" before ending things with an acoustic version of Clarence Williams' "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" (made famous by another Williams, Hank Williams Sr.).