Dudley Taft – Deep Deep Blue

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Review by Will Harris

American Blues Artist Group

Following a 16-year career borne out of the 90s Seattle alt-rock scene (in groups such as Sweet Water, Second Coming and Omnivoid), Dudley Taft settled himself firmly within the realm of blues-rock, spending three years solo working towards his 2010 debut, Left For Dead, a heavy, modern collection of blues standards and originals. His latest output continues in the same vein, this time an affair of sturdy guitar-led blues-rock wrapped in a slickly-produced package.

And the first thing that stands out from Dylan opener ‘Meet Me In The Morning’ is there’s a reason it’s guitar-led: Taft knows his chops better than a Texas butcher, being an incredibly skilled player knowing the importance of good phrasing and varied fretwork, and having that rare quality of being able to blow you away without being showy. During the middle eight of steam train boogie ‘The Waiting’ he flips between melodic bridge-pickup noodling and trebly bending wails, while the southern rock of ‘God Forbid’ has him keep the lead work aptly steady and focused. His soloing is wonderfully expressive through moody minor-key title track, teasing towards an intensifying Jimmy Page-style outburst, though this unfortunately never comes; perhaps it comes from Taft’s general reluctance to be too indulgent, but the track practically begs for it.

There are some great songs here too: the horn-laden don’t-need-you-no-more jive of ‘Feeling Good Now’ is as upbeat as its title, while the funky ‘Sally Can’t Dance’ sounds like Ugly Kid Joe covering Sticky Fingers-era Stones. Though essentially a blues album, there’s not much here that would go amiss in, say, any Black Stone Cherry fans’ collection. The country rock of ‘Wishing Well’ would feel right at home on any classic rock station, if only its slightly over-long guitar solos (as accomplished as they may be) didn’t impose so much on its excellent hooks.

And herein lies the only hurdle for Taft: at many times during this album he possesses that show-stopping flair that’s shot so many axe-slingers to fame in the blues world, he’s only got a little farther to go before his songwriting really stands out enough to carry it along. What he’s working towards here is balance, and this is only his second outing in the genre of blues — let’s hope he gets it third time lucky.

DT_Digi_4_outlined7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Meet Me In The Morning
  2. The Waiting
  3. God Forbid
  4. Sally Can’t Dance
  5. Deep Deep Blue
  6. Feeling Good Now
  7. Wishing Well
  8. Satisfy You
  9. Bandit Queen
  10. Palace of the King
  11. Shanks Akimbo

 

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