Donna Jean & The Tricksters: self-titled

By: Alex Borsody

The highly anticipated new album born from the collaboration between Donna Jean Godchaux MacKay and her new band, The Tricksters, does not disappoint. Donna Jean says that she expresses herself more creatively with the Tricksters and is happier as a singer-songwriter in this setting than in her earlier work. This can be heard in the blues heavy music that spans ballads, honky tonk and island/tribal sounds.

"Me and Kettle Joe" is not a particularly unique song but has an interesting bassline and exemplifies an authentic classic rock sound. A well-written, catchy song, "Kettle Joe" embodies their core rock & roll sound, perfect driving music to turn up and sing along to. The ballad "Shelter" is bound to be a favorite, a soulful and melancholy song deep with emotion and themes of spiritual salvation and rejuvenation. Speaking of rejuvenation, Donna Jean may have the voice of a woman half her age yet expresses the maturity and wisdom that come with her years, especially while singing about some of the many Big Picture ideas on the album.

"No Better Way" is a love song but not the romantic kind, the "peace and love" kind. Written with the same chord progression as Dreadric Malone and Joseph Scott's blues number (popularized by the Grateful Dead) “Lovelight" (which they tease during live performances), "No Better Way" is a catchy, upbeat tune written in true jam band spirit. Donna Jean's vocals shine and inspire on this one. "Weight of the World" begins with tribal drums and sounds reminiscent of Rusted Root and modern African music. "Weight" also demonstrates the versatility and musical accomplishment of the band.

This album converted me into a true Donna Jean fan, and shows why she is so excited about this collaboration. Thick with hippy values and lyrics and long guitar jams, Donna Jean and the Tricksters are a link to jam band musical roots, while at the same time carrying the torch into the new millennium. This album delivers to those who have waited for this debut with music that reflects the risk taking and experimental spirit in jam music today.

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jimmy row Thu 3/27/2008 07:07AM
Show -6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
desert_drifter Thu 3/27/2008 08:40AM
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the article actually says that "lovelight" was "popularized by the dead."


natmorgan starstarstarstar Thu 3/27/2008 09:31AM
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Saw these guys in NH and they totally rocked. Donna's lead vocals definitely fit the overall sound, and the band as a whole just keeps the jams moving the whole time. Very much a hard-driving jam band.

n-1 Thu 3/27/2008 01:25PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Break out the haterade! I am offering up my jugular for all to knaw on, lets go! and yeah that Love Light thing was a mistake, at least in the modern Jamband circles that's true, I said that wrong. A thousand apologies, it came out wrong.

desert_drifter Thu 3/27/2008 06:51PM
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i haven't heard this album, but donna jean really hurts me in a lot of my late 70's dead tapes....especially her "yeahhhh yeahhh yeahhy...." in playin'....i'm not so sure that i will ever hear this one.


nobodysjam starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/27/2008 08:35PM
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not particullary authentic is about right on the money, but BOY, when Mattson busts out the vista cruiser, look out, you'd think you were in the Wetlands and a slighly smaller Jerry was on stage and wailing, these guys and gals are road hardened warriors and pros, and it clearly shows (Highly recommended) live

jpkempler Fri 3/28/2008 10:59AM
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Excellent disc...well-produced and expertly executed by a group of highly skilled musicians who are deeply rooted in this musical territory. Plus the artwork alone is worth the price of the disc!! Buy it...then go see them live!

n-1 starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/2/2008 06:57PM
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Looking forward to this summers GOTV check my blog for an interview I'm working on with GOTV people

Positive1 starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/25/2009 07:29PM
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These guys are awesome got to open for them @ sterling stage. Awesome band live w/ donna, I see them every time they come around,have'nt checked out the album yet though this is 1st I'd heard of it