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Album Review

Derek Trucks Band, 'Already Free'

January 12, 2009
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Rock / R&B
Derek Trucks Band Already Free
Sony BMG
ESSENTIAL "Down Don't Bother Me"

Derek Trucks has come of age. He's always had a rippling guitar technique, dating back to his young-phenomenon days in the Allman Brothers Band. But now he's added more soul. This album is his best yet with his own band, a potent dose of rock and R&B instead of the lighter jazz and world music of past efforts. Trucks has clearly benefited from touring with Eric Clapton - and from family life with wife/singer Susan Tedeschi and their two kids. On the disc, recorded at his Swamp Raga home studio in Jacksonville, Fla., Trucks shimmers on electric and acoustic slide guitars while frequent songwriting partner Mike Mattison's deep, guttural blues vocals fall somewhere between Joe Cocker and Albert King. The chemistry of the group has improved over the years. Trucks used to play the virtuoso while the rest of the band played catch-up, but they're all on more equal footing now - with help from guests such as Tedeschi ("Back Where I Started") and Doyle Bramhall II, who co-wrote four songs. Highlights include a stomping version of Bob Dylan's "Down in the Flood" and the sublime "Down Don't Bother Me." You probably won't hear a better rock/R&B record this year. (Out tomorrow)

STEVE MORSE

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