By: Sarah Moore
There's no way to say the following delicately: Tony Joe White has a lot of soul for a white guy. Deep Cuts (released June 10 by R.E.D. Distribution) fuses a dark breed of funk and blues, his voice channeling a rougher Leonard Cohen and a gentler, more relaxed Isaac Hayes. Cutting his teeth in the '70s opening for CCR and in the '90s opening for Clapton, White has formulated his own amalgam of blues-infused funk. White calls his brand of music swampy blues. The description makes sense with the music's buzzing guitars and thick porridge of a rhythm section. White's compositions seem to wail on and on, ever stirring the dark funk mass accrued.
White made Deep Cuts with his son Jody, showcasing his classic songs in an updated format with both digital and live percussion. He also added strings and organ to his signature guitar sound. "As the Crow Flies," one of the highlights of the disc, follows a loose, winding groove. The constant cowbell blends into the stew of percussion, hypnotizing the listener into a deep neck-nodding spell. When listening to this particular track, anyone who was at one time un-hip or awkward becomes suddenly cool, calm and collected. No one can be dorky while listening to this groove. The bassline and flow of the piece is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child," with even White's vocals sounding at times Hendrix-esque. The track fades into "Willie and Laura Mae Jones," another brooding selection that continues the hypnosis.
"Soul Francisco" sounds like it could be the backing track to a Busta Rhymes rap, with Tony Joe White taking role of grandfather. Instead, White moans and whispers along with the minor-key chord progression, utilizing some of the grittiest guitar work possible. He takes on a sinister Barry White persona with the soul of a hard-living old man and the sexiness of a low baritone. Throughout his mumbles and groans, White never stops churning the swampy groove.
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