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Susan Tedeschi Back To The River Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A dirty organic sound, raw voice and uncomplicated emotions

Angus Taylor 2009

With her dirty organic sound, raw voice and uncomplicated emotions, bluesy-soul guitarist Susan Tedeschi is sincerity personified. Back To The River strikes further into soul and rock territory and if, like Susan, you've no truck with artifice or cynicism, her rasping, good-natured songs should hit you where you live.

The blues structures are kept to a minimum, and the most apt description for her current direction would be heavy southern soul. In fact, it’s easy to imagine these fiery gutsy arrangements behind an Ann Peebles, Janis Joplin or a Candi Staton.

On previous outing, Hope and Desire, Tedeschi covered Staton's Evidence. This time she works up a tidier, feedback free rendition of Betty Harris and Allen Toussaint's There's A Break In The Road.

The original material uses a variety of co-writers including Tony Joe White and The Jayhawks' Gary Louris. It's an even split between head shaking riff centred tracks (opener Talking About, the title song) and heartstring tugging chord based ones (Hurricane Katrina reaction 700 Houses).

Lyrically, Susan doesn't do ambiguity and some of her political writing is a little gauche. During People, for instance, she encourages the masses to take responsibility for their lives while simultaneously casting them as easily influenced canvasses for media and advertising wiles.

That said, she makes no claim to political leadership or objectivity and her polemical numbers are backed by confident and catchy tunes. She embodies maxims like ''the personal is political'' and ''the revolution starts at home'' telling self-interested corporate America to Revolutionise Your Soul.

Gritty, wood smoked, and with its heart pinned in the right place on its sleeve, Back To The River is a record for singing loudly along to in the car. And if you don't do much loud singing in your car - it probably isn't for you.

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