Share TALEDRAGGER - T-Model Ford and GravelRoad (Alive Natural Sound)
The recipe is familiar: Mix one old black bluesman with a bunch of younger, semi-underground players, set them up in a studio and roll tape (or process to hard drive) as they play through unrehearsed songs, just to capture some spontaneity.

On first appearances, that might be what's occurring on "Taledragger" - it's certainly the context, even if it was recorded in California rather than down on the bayou - but the results carry more weight than most comparisons you might care to make. Many have gone before. One of the pre-requisites for these projects seems to be a history of recording for Fat Possum (THE scuzzy blues label of repute) and/or being popular in Europe (neither of which are bad things.) Hell, this album was even mixed by the very busy Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders - but hey, that's just to bring some more underground cred to the table, isn't it?.

Oh ye of little faith.

"Taledragger" is a grower. It takes until the third cut on this seven-track album for it to fully hit home. The basic trio of GravelRoad launch "Somene's Knockin' On My Door" into a pulsing groove, punctuated by crawling king snake guitar and stabbing sax. T-Model Ford growls and makes the sounds that his four-wheeled namesake never could and the song becomes a psychedelic haze, a thick stew of weighty dissonance.

That trip has kicked in and "How Many More Years" takes things further out on a limb with guitarist Stefan Zillioux's yawning tone bouncing off T-Model's echoed vocal over the top of a languid beat. This is where the Elevators take a trip into the Delta with Robert Johnston and a headful of ether. The barrelhouse piano and bottleneck of the shuffling "Big Legged Woman" seem orthodox by comparison, but the groove is very much the thing on "Taledragger" and GravelRoad are masters.

"Red Dress" is a standard and delivered sparsely but straight up. The take on "Little Red Rooster" is less perfunctory. It barely breaks into a stagger but the accents are just right and old T-Model's vocal reeks of sex more than any recent Stones cover manages to convey. - The Barman


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