Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The good Doctor's voice can be an acquired taste and there is no doubt he lost many loyalists when he went schmaltzy and kinda boring in the late 80s/early 90s. It was almost as if he had run his course when he started doing live albums and standards.
Now of course this son of New Orleans has plenty to write about post-Katrina, and this album deals to politicians (Time For A Change, Promises Promises), the trickledown as a result of the rapaciousness of American industry (Black Gold), how hard it is in the city that care forgot (We Gettin' There, My People Need a Second Line) and so on.
All these lyrics are couched in vigorous music from his small tight band, the big tight horn section and the many respectful and sympathetic guests (Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, trumpeter Terence Blanchard and others).
At one level this album is a political expression but Dr John doesn't let that swamp his musical intelligence and so here are great funky or melancholy tunes that stand alongside the best of his early years.
And of course he always had a voice tinged with a sad weariness which makes some of these songs cut very deep indeed as he contemplates the fate and future of that rare city he called his home. And America.
There is a Doctor in the house, again.