By James Calemine
Already Free, Derek Trucks’ sixth studio release opens with an absolutely killer rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Down In The Flood”. This version of the song evokes the strongest elements of American music in the last 60 years. The Derek Trucks Band contends as one of the most versatile groups in existence. “Something To Make You Happy” runs on a polyrhythmic drive that inspires a timeless worship of the beat.
Everyone knows the story of Derek Trucks…a guitar prodigy…nephew of Allman Brothers’ original drummer Butch Trucks…who some say he plays with echoes of the ghost of Duane Allman. Trucks’ playing continues to amaze and stands on its own. The song structure on Already Free remains rainproof. This is an emotive batch of songs.
“Maybe This Time”, a laid back sort of summertime tune, will prove a good staple for live performances. “Sweet Inspiration”—a Spooner Oldham/Dan Penn song–calls to mind the late Delaney Bramlett’s huge musical soul in some refracted sounds of Motel Shot. “Don’t Miss Me” is gritty electric blues. “You Get What You Deserve” sounds like some holy street preacher delivering a close-to-the-bone sermon to all the wayward souls—mighty fine stuff.
“Down Don’t Bother Me”, proves a dose of therapeutic music as positive vibrations resound in this melody. The rhythmic prowess of drummer Yonrico Scott and bass duties of Todd Smallie hold down a strong groove which signifies the R & B-flavored “Days Almost Gone” as soul-funk. As usual, Kofi Burbridge handles the keyboards and flute while Count Mbutu covers the percussion. Doyle Bramhall serves as a special guest. Vocalist Mike Mattison really shines on this collection of songs. Derek’s wife, Susan Tedeschi, handles vocals on “Back Where I Started”, a song Derek co-wrote with fellow Allman Brother Warren Haynes.
Already Free is an amalgamation of styles streamlined into one inimitable sound only the Derek Trucks Band create. Already Free contends as the band’s strongest work.