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Album Review

Book T. Jones, 'The Road from Memphis'

May 9, 2011

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After a bit of a bluesy rock diversion with 2009’s “Potato Hole,’’ the new record from Booker T. Jones takes him closer to home, in spite of its title. Jones is playing with a different cast this time; he’s swapped out the Drive-by Truckers for the Roots, along with Detroit psych-funk legend Dennis Coffey on guitar and Orgone percussionist Stewart Killen. And while their touches are felt, for the most part, the music hews close to the Hammond-infused, MG’s Stax sound that made him famous. That’s a good thing, as the stutter-funk of “Walking Papers,’’ covers of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,’’ and Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything,’’ the driving, joyous sound of “The Hive,’’ and the perfectly titled “The Vamp’’ show. There are a few (vocal) wrinkles: Booker T. takes an infrequent turn at the microphone to sing about his Memphis on the smoldering “Down in Memphis,’’ Sharon Jones and the National’s Matt Berninger take up the same theme on “Representing Memphis,’’ and Lou Reed paints a counterpart picture on “The Bronx.’’ But overall, this is a satisfying return to Booker T.’s classic instrumental soul and funk. (Out tomorrow) STUART MUNRO

ESSENTIAL “The Hive’’