Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ten Things 2007: Number One

A series of posts spotlighting some things that made a bad year bearable.

1. "Is It News," Doyle Bramhall's amazing new genre-transcending CD.

Doyle Bramhall -- not to be confused with his guitar-slinging son, Doyle II -- is probably best known for his contribution as a songwriter to some of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan's biggest hits. Not to mention his influence (obvious once you've heard him) on SRV's vocal style, and his status as one of the great drummers in this line of music.

As his label, YepRoc, puts it, Bramhall had a key role in helping to create "the largest audience the blues has ever known." I suspect this new CD will further expand that audience.

Up to now, Bramhall's albums have been distinguished by matchless covers of songs like "I Can See Clearly Now," reborn as a Texas roadhouse rocker, and O. V. Wright's "I'd Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy."

"Is It News" changes all that. This CD is all originals. Some of them are instant classics, like "Lost in the Congo" and "I'll Take You Away," the best new soul song I have heard in way too long a time. If radio stations played this kind of music, people would believe in radio again.

The album is somehow both thoroughly modern-sounding, even edgy, while also being a throwback to the days when bluesmen like Jimmy Reed routinely ignored the genre police and crashed the pop charts.

If you're a fan of rocking Texas R&B music, you probably didn't think they made records like this anymore. If you're among the people who think they're not supposed to like this kind of music, you may be surprised by your own answer to the question posed by the title.

You can hear four songs from the CD on Bramhall's MySpace page:


reader said...

Yeah I love this album. I picked it up in South Carolina over Thanksgiving. Sadly, I didn't notice that my rental car didn't have a CD player (!!) until AFTER I made the purchase, so I was unable to listen to it until after I returned to Portland.

When I heard the title track, I hit the Back button about 5 times in a row. It's such a great song.

Thanks for the post. And thanks for making the distinction between Doyle Bramhall and Doyle Bramhall II. Most people don't know there are two generations of greatness in that family.

While I'm here, I have to recommend you listen to Mike Ferris of Nashville. He is my new favorite singer and I wrote a brief article about the discovery here:

reader said...

Check out the Joe Ely band on the steps of the Texas State Capitol.

I'm on a Texas music kick after catching The Flatlanders in Portland Friday night.