Tab Benoit,
The Sea Saint Sessions
(Telarc, 2003)

What you'll find on The Sea Saint Sessions are recordings done in the Big Easy Studio in New Orleans, which is better known by some as the Sea Saint Studio, and leading the way on this CD is the blues monolith, Tab Benoit, Louisiana born and bred.

Benoit brought together his regular band members, Darryl White and Carl Dufrene, bassist and drummer respectively, for the creation of this CD. Also invited to participate in the recording sessions were Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Cyril Neville, Brian Stoltz and George Porter, and they each successfully added their signature to the package.

Benoit doesn't hold back on the first two cuts. "Baby Blue" and "Boat Launch Baby" will take you down to the edge and pull you right in. Then he moves into several laidback but catchy numbers that express some great guitar playing. By the time we get to track 8, the guys are rocking like a whipple-tree. "Making the Bend" puts you in mind of a smoky evening in a hidden music-shanty and you might never want to leave.

It sounds like the production of Sea Saint Sessions included some off-the-cuff creating, and I'd agree that whoever was holding the reins and let the music swing and sway with the gentle guidance of the band's flirty and freewheeling musical aspirations had the right idea.

The only catch I can think of is, I would have liked a little more roughness, a little more grit, maybe a little more of Benoit's Cajun voice, but I won't gripe too much about that because, really, these guys gave an invigorating massage to the more laidback tunes and turned them into some lean, mean, blues with absolutely inspired guitar phrases.

The CD isn't perfect, but you can't enjoy blues without some rough edges. Pretty much all of the CD, but especially, "Hustlin' Down in New Orleans," gives a feel of steamy Louisiana and spicy Cajun roots. I'd give this one serious consideration.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 1 November 2003

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