As a child prodigy on guitar, Derek Trucks formed his first band at age 15 after sitting in with such artists as Buddy Guy and B.B. King. At the ripe old age of 19, he was asked to join the Allman Brothers Band as a permanent member. After countless live dates and five well-received studio albums, Trucks arrives at “Already Free,” his latest studio release on Victor Records.
The vibe on “Already Free” can be summed up with the first sentence inside the liner notes: “Some music feels like home on the very first spin; welcoming, familiar and easy to slip into.” Hearing Trucks play slide guitar is like listening to an old soul. He churns out runs and melodies that sound way beyond his 29 years.
It’s a fact that Trucks cut his teeth on slide players like Duane Allman and Elmore James, but the new album takes him down some different paths. The world music influence on past recordings has been set aside in favor of a more straight-ahead blues/rock style. Whether this is the result of touring with Eric Clapton or not remains to be seen, but “Already Free” is a significant change from the global blend on “Songlines” or “Soul Serenade.”
From the opening notes of Bob Dylan’s “Down In The Flood” to the simple back-porch blues of the title track which closes the CD, the music sounds homegrown and very earthy. Trucks plays with an authority that displays his musical maturity but still leaves plenty of room to jam on tracks like “Days Is Almost Gone” and “Back Where I Started,” a slow-burning number that features vocals from his wife, Susan Tedeschi.
“Sweet Inspiration” sounds like an old tent revival and brings an element of r&b to the setlist. Between the soulful vocals from Mike Mattison and Trucks’ subdued solos, the tune is a memorable diversion before leading into the rough-and-tumble blues of “Get What You Deserve.”
There’s not a single misstep on “Already Free,” and it’s worth the effort to search out the limited edition that contains three excellent bonus tracks, including the instrumental “Swamp Raga.”
Rating: W W W W