Tedeschi Trucks Band – Let Me Get By

Soul-blues power couple renew their vows to uphold ‘real’ music

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Historically, the fastest way to liquidate a marriage is to place it under the stresses of a rock band: just ask John and Christine McVie. Curious, then, that as both a creative unit and romantic partnership, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks still have all the vigour of newlyweds.

Dubbed the “power-couple of the blues” by Joe Bonamassa back in issue five, they’ve since lived up to the billing, releasing a slam-dunk of a second album in 2013’s Made Up Mind and straddling the planet with a high-wire live show that makes everyone else seem small, puny and predictable by comparison.

or their rampant musicianship, their disregard for genre, their let’s-throw-it-in songwriting by committee, Tedeschi Trucks Band are the group to beat. So third album Let Me Get By arrives with a sense of trepidation. Historically again, every imperious hot streak ends with a bloated parody of a once-great band pissing on its own shoes: just ask… well, anyone.

Let Me Get By is not the misstep that we feared, or that the couple’s competitors may have hoped for. On the contrary, it’s a stone-cold belter, consolidating the band’s aforementioned strengths, hinting at next steps and further exposing the hollow heart of the modern mainstream (the band have always been driven, in part, by a Travis Bickle-like desire to sweep away “the bullshit” of the X Factor age).

Broadly speaking, the album’s default setting might be soul, but these 10 tracks are a rummage through America’s jumble of genres, a trolley dash of styles, a band going their own way as emphatically as the eagle escaping the gloved hand on the sleeve.

By now you’ve probably heard lead-off single Anyhow, with its rolling, reflective, bruised-but- unbowed groove and a chorus that flags up Tedeschi as a singer of rare soul and nuance. That’s followed up in style by Crying Over You, with Sympathy For The Devil “woo-woo” backing vocals underpinning an absolute monster of a Trucks slide solo. Stick around for the dreamy, Celtic-flavoured ‘hidden’ track that fades up afterwards too.

Don’t Know What It Means is squelchy, strutting funk-blues with a lusty gang-chanted chorus, while I Want More is a spring-heeled love letter to Motown. With that said, at seven minutes-plus thanks to an extended flute finale, the song also flags up a recurring issue of the album: many of these tracks are excessively long, the band perhaps forgetting they’re no longer up on stage and should rein in the jams.

All is forgiven, though, as the line-up crash from the brassy swing of In Every Heart (another outro solo from Trucks to get guitar anoraks hot) to the busy beat of the title track, before wrapping up with the military drums and New Orleans funeral-dance parps of Right On Time. It’s a left-field conclusion to a third album that positively zings with confidence, but then you’d expect nothing less from Tedeschi Trucks Band. They’re not just getting by – they’re thriving.

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.