Tab Benoit,
(Telarc, 2002)

After listening to Wetlands, the latest release from Louisiana-born guitarist Tab Benoit, it has become one of my favorite albums for the year. Hands down, this CD is smokin', all 13 tracks melding together perfectly. What you'll find here is a natural sound, real blues with all the emotional impact and without any of the studio bells and whistles.

The specific definition of style and sound would certainly qualify Wetlands as an ultimate blues package, a definite top-10 release. This should answer any questions about Benoit's musical direction and dedication to the rich history of his Louisiana roots. A genuine masterpiece, Wetlands is the foundation from where this contemporary blues artist will leap forward, placing him side by side with several of the blues giants.

Benoit delivers a soulful, bluesy, hard-driving performance, including a couple of tender tracks like Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine" and the ever popular "Georgia." Drummer Daryl White and bassist Carl Dufrene help Benoit give this album a true gutsy feel, allowing the music to speak for itself. Benoit covers a range of styles, from classic blues and R&B, to original works like the rockin' opener, "Fast and Free," and his autobiographical "When a Cajun Man Gets the Blues." Benoit takes the rich flavors of the Louisiana bayou and brings them to life through his expressive vocals and distinctive guitar work on tracks like "Dog Hill," a tribute to Boozoo Chavis, and Professor Longhair's "Her Mind Is Gone." I particularly enjoyed his version of the Li'l Bob & the Lollipops' "I Got Loaded" -- if that doesn't get your toes tappin' you must be dead!

Wetlands is a true reflection of this artist's musical versatility and depth, a great collection of slow blues, swampy ballads, electric shuffles and even some delta blues. He really shines when playing that zydeco groove, using the accordion and rubboard from his favorite six-stringed. Benoit has recorded a real gem, with a genuine sound that comes from the heart, while remaining true to his roots. If you like no-nonsense blues, you're going to love Wetlands, it's definitely his best work to date.

[ by Pamela L. Dow ]
Rambles: 29 June 2002

Buy it from