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BLUES

'River' rolls with Tedeschi's hot licks

October 27, 2008
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Susan Tedeschi

Back to the River (Verve Forecast)

ESSENTIAL "Talking About"

Play the greasy, guitar-driven overture to "Talking About," the opening track on Susan Tedeschi's fine new disc, and you can be excused for initially wondering how a new Allman Brothers track crept into your player. But once Tedeschi launches into one of her Joplinesque she-cat yowls, you'll soon realize the onetime Bay State blues singer is staking out new musical territory. Oh sure, her husband, Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks, plays on several of its 11 tracks. But not that one. Like her husband's band, Tedeschi uses the blues as a base camp on "Back to the River," a starting point that allows her to explore gospel, rock, pop, soul, and funk territories. It's easily her most fully realized recording, and it's no coincidence that she also wrote or co-wrote all but one song. Her co-authors indicate the wide range of sounds she pursues in her successful bid to stretch out as a songwriter: swamp music king Tony Joe White, the Jayhawks' Gary Louris, hubby Trucks, and new songstress Sonya Kitchell, among others. She gets topical on songs such as "Revolutionize Your Soul," and "700 Houses," the latter about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and her surly guitar work slathers musical Tabasco on just about everything. The end result reveals Tedeschi as a potent weapon of mass construction. (Out tomorrow) DEAN JOHNSON

Susan Tedeschi plays at Berklee Performance Center on Nov. 11. Tickets are $37.50 at www.livenation.com or 617-931-2000.

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