From The Reach
Sonny Landreth returns with his first record in 5 years. With his deep catalog of work both as a solo artist and a collaborator/contributor to others (Beausoliel, John Hiatt), Landreth remains in the top echelon of Louisiana musicians. Despite his diverse talents, Landreth's distinctive slide guitar style lies at the top of his calling card. His attack differs from Duane Allman’s approach because it is more liquid and atmospheric, part of the reason it remains totally Louisiana.
Landreth's first record in 5 years, From The Reach, serves up a pleasurable brew. The first half of the record has sort of a Derek and the Dominos feeling, partly because on most of these tracks Landreth has chosen to bring on board a second guitarist to act as a counterpoint to his slide.
He picked perfect running mates in Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Robben Ford, and Eric Johnson. Each of their styles compliments Landreth seamlessly allowing him to conjure his own Louisiana version of classic Southern Rock at is bluesy best.
Like many Louisiana-based musicians, Landreth has chosen Hurrican Katrina as a storyline that runs through his record. Blue Tarp Blues spins the devastating story of the hardships the storm left behind. The first half's showcase of guitar chops captures the stinging anger Landreth and many other Americans feel about the storm and its aftermath. Yet, that anger underpins a sense of resolve for his state's recovery.
The second half of the record changes tone a bit starting with the rollicking Howlin' Moon which features Jimmy Buffett on vocals and Dr. John on vocals and piano. This track embodies the breadth of Louisiana music which is no small feat. The Going On, featuring Vince Gill, allows Landreth to show more of his pop side. This track wouldn't sound out of place on mainstream country radio, maybe Kenny Chesney could cut it employing his sense of "looking back".
Like Sam Bush, Duane Allman's influence on Landreth is obvious. Leading with a slide on strings, Landreth chooses to meld Allman with his gulf coast influences in the same way that Bush did with his Kentucky bluegrass.
Knowing how the Swampland Footprint loves its guitar players, Landreth does Louisiana proud.
- Jim Markel