Doyle Bramhall,
Fitchburg Street
(Yep Roc, 2003)

Fitchburg Street is basically a collection of blues covers, named after the street where Doyle Bramhall lived as a boy. Most of the songs on this album were first experienced by Bramhall in that house on Fitchburg Street. I know some get a little apprehensive of blues music; they're afraid they aren't dedicated enough to hard-core or traditional blues music. Bramhall thankfully provides a more accessible type of album--a blues/rock take on these classics. This Texan has a pretty neutral voice suited for this approach. He doesn't push any vocal boundaries -- he just goes along with the music. Usually, I'd say that's not a good thing, but in this case it fits the music.

"Dimples" is a great start to the album. It has this roadhouse vibe to it that just makes you yearn for beer and peanuts. "I'd Rather Be (Blind, Crippled & Crazy)" is a good rendition that will have you slightly bopping your head along with the back-up singers. "Changes" showcases Bramhall's guitar skills (pretty impressive but a bit too long). In "That's How Strong My Love Is," Bramhall sets up a slow pace that almost made me think Joe Cocker was going to make a cameo.

"Life By the Drop" is the only original song on the album. Even though this song is clustered in between a bunch of classics, it manages to hold its own. It starts off with a Rick Derringer/Ted Nugent kind of guitar riff and sidles into a cool, even tempo. If this song is any indication of Bramhall's writing ability, he's bound to percolate a few masterpieces.

Fitchburg Street is Bramhall's trip down memory lane, his rediscovery of his musical roots. A little bit of nostalgia goes a long way, especially in this case. It's not just a re-hash of the blues songs from his childhood; the recording honors the music that he loves while letting him add his own style. Plus, he gets to add one of his own works into the mix, and it fits just right.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 27 September 2003

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