In this 2003 performance from the Austin City Limits series, New England's Susan Tedeschi demonstrates a range that extends well beyond her blues base. Following the blueprint employed by Bonnie Raitt a few decades earlier, she covers John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery" (a signature tune for Raitt), inserting a snippet from the Grateful Dead's "Sugaree." The piano balladry of her "Wrapped in the Arms of Another" could fit just fine on a Raitt album. The set also finds her sampling from the songbooks of Sly Stone ("You Can Make It If You Try"), Bob Dylan ("Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"), and Stevie Wonder ("Love's in Need of Love Today"), in addition to the more straightforward blues of Koko Taylor ("Voodoo Woman"). Though Tedeschi's stinging lead guitar provides the focus, she receives strong support from a band featuring the interplay of electric pianist Jason Crosby (who doubles on violin) and William Green on Hammond B-3 organ. Highlights include a tribute to jam-band inspiration Col. Bruce Hampton on "Hampmotized" and the simmering "Wait for Me," with its echoes of Aretha Franklin.
Billy Bauer was an accomplished studio guitar player whose only studio date as a leader was this release, finally reissued as a part of the Verve Elite Edition limited edition CD series in 2000. Throughout the CD he is never overpowering, but a solid rhythmic player, whether essaying a gently swinging "Too Marvelous for Words" or a more sprightly "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To." Bauer also wrote several originals for the date, including the easygoing bop vehicle "Lincoln Tunnel," the tender ballad "Night Cruise," and the unaccompanied "Blue Mist." Accompanying Bauer is bassist Milt Hinton, drummer Osie Johnson, and the obscure pianist Arnold Ackers. While this won't be an essential CD for every jazz fan, those who acquire it will not be disappointed.
With a vibrant, versatile voice (sounding at times like an inspired mix of Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt) capable of adding subtle emotional shifts to slow-burning ballads or rocking out with the big boys, Susan Tedeschi burst on the scene at the close of the 1990s like a breath of fresh air in an era of prefab MTV teen idols. Like Raitt, Tedeschi works from a blues base, but she mixes in a strong sense of R&B and gospel, and with Back to the River, her second release for Verve Forecast, she shows that she's really starting to find herself as a songwriter, as well. Tedeschi wrote or co-wrote all but one of the 11 tracks here, and while one could still say these songs are based in her beloved blues, like Raitt, she has branched out from there to become a solid pop artist with a real and accessible vision, and the blues is just the engine under the hood. There are some wonderful moments here, including the big and funky title track, "Back to the River," which Tedeschi co-wrote with swamp pop master Tony Joe White, the sincere and solid "Learning the Hard Way," co-written with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, and the impressive "Butterfly," which Tedeschi' co-wrote with her husband, Derek Trucks.
The Wave Pictures are an english band consisting of David Tattersall (vocals & guitar), Franic Rozycki (bass guitar) and Jonny Helm (drums). Susan Rode The Cyclone is their fourth official album release and their second for Little Teddy Recordings. The Wave Pictures do not tire of playing their contagious cheek on whatever stage allows them to do so, in fact they make the most of the quiet moments between touring to go into the studio and come out with a collection of cheeky and playful songs in which folk and pop come together completely naturally. Still not satisfied with recording the brilliant "Instant Coffee Baby" (2008) and "If You Leave It Alone" (2009), now "Susan Rode The Cyclone" (2010) confirms they are in top form with its stripped-down sound and witty lyrics, the scratching guitars, the overwhelming choruses.