With the release of any Derek Trucks Band album, one thing is certain – your ears will not be assaulted by sound, but rather gently introduced to and carefully mesmerized by the band’s signature fusion of blues, jazz, rock, funk, gospel, and improvisation. Already Free (Download – CD – Vinyl) takes its place alongside the rest of the band’s catalog with plenty of smiling, soaring songs that utilize the vast stores of talent minded by the sextet. Let’s face it – just about anything is going to sound great with Trucks’ relentlessly inventive guitar sliding all over it.
While there’s plenty of Trucks’ world-class work to be found on Already Free, its the other five guys who keep the ceremonies in constantly entertaining motion. Mike Mattison’s vocal work continues to reveal layer after layer of depth, and on this disc he’s tastefully restrained, letting his naturally expressive voice do the work instead of putting it through the wringer with over-the-top wailing. The tracks strut along with flawless contributions from all involved – the drums and bass combo of Yonrico Scott and Todd Smallie is as reliable as ever, and Kofi Burbridge has matured into a fine keyboardist. Count M’butu’s percussive accents give the tunes a whiff of the exotic elements that so vigorously defined the early incarnations of DTB, but now find themselves mashed into a soulful, righteous, invigorating whole.
Individual tracks reveal concentrated slugs of various styles – the revivalist joy of “Sweet Inspiration” gives way to the blues-coated funk of “Don’t Miss Me”; the pulsating jazz-rock of “Something to Make You Happy” follows the scorching Dylan cover “Down In The Flood”; and the high and mighty “Get What You Deserve” precedes the gentle sway of “Our Love.” There’s faithful soul balladeering (“Days Is Almost Gone”), acoustic magic featuring the irresistible voice of Susan Tedeschi (“Back Where I Started”), and spine-tingling, horn-laced southern rhythmic invention (“I Know”). Already Free is a veritable cavalcade of prophetic guitar playing, intoxicating rhythms, and transcendent song construction that moves Derek Trucks Band even further along on their quest for the perfect fusion.