Trucks in top form

By Colin Young, News Correspondent

Derek Trucks grew up faster than most children.
By age 9 he was playing slide guitar with the Allman Brothers Band, Bob Dylan and Buddy Guy. By 13, he was touring with his own band, and at 19, Trucks replaced Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers. Now, Trucks is 29 years old, and the slide guitarist has released his strongest album to date.
Already Free, released Jan. 13 on Legacy Records, showcases Truck’s virtuosity without overshadowing the talent playing behind him:’ ‘ singer Mike Mattison, drummer Yonrico Scott, bassist Todd Smallie, keyboardist Kofi Burbridge and percussionist Count M’Butu. It’s the band’s first release since Songlines in 2006 and marks a departure from the jazz and world influences that previously dominated their recordings. Already Free provides healthy doses of southern rock, blues, funk and R&B without losing its sense of cohesiveness; this isn’t a collection of 12 disparate tracks, but a sonic statement.
A reworked version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Down in the Flood’ opens the album with considerable power. The track pulls the listener in with multiple slide guitar parts before swelling into a forceful mixture of distorted guitar and the work of a thumping rhythm section. Trucks builds off the band’s momentum in his solo, proving to the listener that he is a force to be reckoned with.
The swampy, upbeat cut ‘Something to Make You Happy’ picks up where the first track leaves off, an early hint at the band’s ability to extend beyond the blues-jazz formula that gave them their start.
A southern cover of the soul classic ‘Sweet Inspiration’ provides plenty of space for Trucks’ harmonic slide licks to resonate over a funky rhythm and uplifting lyrics:
‘ ‘I need your sweet inspiration / I need you here on my mind, every hour of the day. / Without your sweet inspiration, the lonely hours of the night just don’t go my way.’
Already Free features guest guitarist and singer Doyle Bramhall II on two tracks and Truck’s wife, guitarist and singer Susan Tedeschi on the expressive ‘Back Where I Started’.
The monstrous ‘Get What You Deserve’ spotlights Trucks’ blues chops and singer Mike Mattison’s deep, rich vocals. As the album comes to a close, with the dusty title track, it’s clear that Trucks is one of the best guitarist playing right now, showing no signs of slowing down.
On the band’s upcoming world tour, they will make a stop at the House of Blues in Boston April 2.

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