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.
JamBase | Terrapin
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