Personnel: Susan Tedeschi (vocals, guitar); Derek Trucks (guitar, slide guitar).
Audio Mixer: Bobby Tis.
Liner Note Author: Ashley Kahn.
Recording information: Swamp Raga Studios, Jacksonville, FL.
Photographers: Bobby Tis; Derek Trucks; Lyle Owerko; David Trucks; Purvis Wayne.
After 2013's Made Up Mind, Tedeschi Trucks Band hit the road hard, racking up 200 dates in 2014. After Derek Trucks played the Allman Brothers Band's final shows, and TTB's parting with Sony, the 12-piece band and friends (including Doyle Bramhall II) entered their Swamp Raga Studios behind Trucks' and Susan Tedeschi's home, and began recording jam-style rehearsals; everyone was encouraged to contribute ideas, songs, etc. They'd break to work the road then return to record some more. The end result is Let Me Get By, produced by Trucks, recorded by Bobby Tis, and released by Fantasy. Jazz bassist Tim Lefebvre joined permanently (he was also part of David Bowie's band on Blackstar), and Alecia Chakour was enlisted to balance Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers on backing vocals. The lineup is rounded out by keyboardist Kofi Burbridge, drummers Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson, and a three-piece horn section. Trucks proves a fearless producer here. This collaboratively written ten-song set showcases the band's skill at playing and composing through Southern soul, roots rock, blues, greasy funk, jazz, Indian classical, film music, and African and Brazilian polyrhythms. An obvious studio offering, it's warm and resonant, yet crackling with energy and ideas. The feel is loose and grooving, the performances hot. Over TTB's last two albums, Tedeschi has become comfortable as the lead singer of a large band. She's almost iconic here, taking chances with phrasing, finding hidden spaces in lines and syllables, and emoting from the belly. She never oversells a song but always sings the hell out of it. (Check "Anyhow" if you want shivers.) She plays a mean guitar, too: her solo in the gritty, punchy, party funk number "Don't Know What It Means" is a highlight. But everybody gets to shine here -- Mattison with lead vocals on the Brechtian-esque carny rock of "Right on Time," and the modal soul of "Crying Over You/Swamp Raga for Hozapfel, Lefebvre, Flute and Harmonium" -- adding character and depth to TTB's signature. Lefebvre's syncopation and invention create new possibilities for harmonic and rhythmic dialogue. His bass pushes the funky dual drum breaks and biting electric piano and organ on the title cut, allowing roaring horns, soaring chorus vocals, and Trucks' spiraling slide to collide with and flow through one another. The unusual meld of Memphis soul, Bollywood-style strings, Eastern electric slide, and strummed acoustic guitars creatively come together to support Tedeschi's wrenching, affirmative vocal in the passionate "Hear Me. The rave-up dancefloor R&B in "I Want More" is guaranteed to put any party into overdrive. The meld of gospel, soul, doo wop, and blues rock on closer "In Every Heart" offers a Trucks' solo that digs deep in the emotional grain to contrast with the sweet vibe. Never has TTB sounded so organic, relaxed, and free. Let Me Get By is the album this group has been striving for since their formation. You need this. ~ Thom Jurek