Sunday, December 05, 2010

Lucky Peterson - You Can Always Turn Around (Dreyfus, 2010)

Lucky Peterson was a childhood prodigy playing blues and R&B from an early age and mastering several instruments, even scoring a major label deal at one point. After some personal problems that led him to take a lower profile, he returns with this album, which demonstrate his diverse musical interests. Putting together a nice small band with Larry Campbell on guitars, Scott Petito on bass and Gary Burke on drums (and Peterson's wife Tamara providing a few backing vocals) the music's sound is lean and direct. I think that Peterson is most successful on the directly blues based material, like the opener, Robert Johnson's "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom." Peterson and Campbell rip into the tune and play it with a lot of direct abandon. Same on the Blind Willie McTell standard "Statesboro Blues" which in its raw and unadorned state is closer to Taj Mahal's version than the Allman Brothers. "Why Are People Like That" adds an element of snappy funk to the proceedings, making for a fun performance. The haunting "Death Don't Have No Mercy" originally by Reverend Gary Davis, hews close to the original, with a thoughtful and respectful reading. Peterson is far from a purist or a conservative and he draws on other streams of music for inspiration, most successfully in the haunting "Trampled Rose" by the iconoclastic Tom Waits. "I'm New Here" shows the confessional singer - songwriter side of Peterson's work, although the mix of spoken and sung lyrics come off as a little hesitant and tepid. It's good to have Lucky Peterson back on the music scene. Although this album is a bit of a mixed bag, it is an ample demonstration of his wide ranging musical vision. You Can Always Turn Around -

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