Power Of The Pontchartrain
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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the idea of blues from the bayou takes on a whole new meaning. Guitarist Tab Benoit has seen and experienced the suffering first-hand this past year as his home-state of Louisiana struggles to clean up and rebuild. Armed with gritty guitar chops, a powerful vocal attack and insightful songcraft, this self-proclaimed new kid from the old school bears witness the best way he knows how delivering a passionate and heartfelt brand of Louisiana blues that connects audiences worldwide to the plight of his beleaguered homeland.
Tab Benoit's album titles leave little doubt as to where he's from or the music he plays. Brother to the Blues, Fever for the Bayou, Wetlands, and now Power of the Pontchartrain exude the sweaty Louisiana swamp, blues, and R&B inherent in their names. But that only tells part of the story--the rest is in the grooves where Benoit's distinctive, grainy voice and tough Telecaster leads bring soul, grit, and intensity to a sound already infused with an earthy sensibility. There's more of the same on this disc, but that's no criticism. Benoit generally sticks with others' songs here, yet he unearths hidden gems. Julie Miller's "Midnight and Lonesome" is dragged into the murky swamps as a driving ballad with eerie qualities that live up to its name. Miller and husband Buddy are also credited with the righteous-yet-rugged gospel of "Shelter Me." "Somebody's Got to Go," originally by Lonnie Johnson, gets a crisp, frisky makeover, and even Buffalo Springfield's crusty "For What It's Worth" takes a swim in the muddy waters of Benoit's home state, with a little help of some altered, post-Katrina lyrics. The guitarist lets his Cajun influences fly on the bouncy rhythms of "Sac-Au-Lait Fishing," the album's only original, and shifts into pleading Otis Redding mode for the aching blues ballad "I'm Guilty of Lovin' You." The Chicago-by-way-of-the-Delta shuffle of "One Foot in the Bayou" is also an apt description of Benoit's approach. He touches on a variety of Americana styles, yet always keeps part of himself planted firmly in the wetlands of his roots. --Hal Horowitz
Top customer reviews
Pay particular attention to Tab's covers of Buddy Miller's "Shelter Me" and the Buffalo Springfield classic "For What It's Worth". Knowing the passion Tab has for his beloved Louisiana you can feel the desperation and angst still present in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
The band on this project "Louisiana's Leroux" is exactly the right ingredient to make this recipe work. Their craftmanship takes the listener on a journey of multiple grooves and feels that makes the music seamless and fun. If you're looking for something that moves you "Power Of The Pontchartrain" is what the Dr. ordered.
The Solid Rock Radio