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Tedeschi Trucks Band – ‘I am the Moon: I. Crescent’ Review

The first of a quartet of releases from this talented & ambitious band.

Tedeschi Trucks Band
Credit: David McClister

When I spoke to singer and guitarist Susan Tedeschi several years ago, she mentioned her husband, guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, is a fan of fantasy literature. She mentioned that he’s become friends with the creative mind behind ‘Game of Thrones’, George R. R. Martin. Martin is a fan of their type of music, having named the weirwood trees in his epic after Grateful Dead member Bob Weir. I maintain that Derek Trucks would have been an awesome guest star on that show, and it should have happened.

 It’s not surprising that the Tedeschi Trucks Band turned to Persian mythology for an epic 4-album cycle they’re releasing over the course of this summer. It’s an ambitious project, and it’s one that, as a reviewer, presents a dauting prospect: while the 4 albums are being released separately, and are intended to be consumed as such, the entire project constitutes one continuous narrative arc. The entire project is more than the sum of the individual parts, and it’s hard to look at them as distinct, freestanding entities, even if the band meant to divide them into digestible 36-minute installments.

Tedeschi Trucks Band feat
Credit: TTB & Fantasy Records

TTB’s virtuosity is always a highlight of its releases, and they really shine, especially Derek’s exceptional guitar work, on the final track of the album, ‘Pasquan’ which clocks in at more than 12 minutes. The instrumental track is hypnotic. Trucks has been, since he was a very young man, one of the best guitar players in the world and, not even in middle age, he only seems to be approaching the apex of his powers. On the second track, ‘Fall In’ Trucks plays slide guitar with phenomenal snap, showing some of the style of the great Ry Cooder, contributing to a distinctly New Orleans, dixieland jazz track.

TTB is most definitely a jam band, if one formed in the image of Derek’s first band, the Allman Brothers, more than the Grateful Dead. A friend once told me he can’t listen to jam bands because they’re too unstructured, but that misunderstands what’s going on here. Jam bands like TTB only function because there’s an incredible amount of structure. In an album setting, this is more true than their live playing, where they are doing more improvisation, but even here, the music goes long and stretches out. To play like this requires a deep understanding, if not on a highly theoretical basis, at least on an intuitive level, of the structure of music, of how progressions work, and the logic that dictates where you’re supposed to go when you’re playing.

That being said, there’s a certain looseness here; the lyrics aren’t tight, 3-minute, wrapped up narratives. Some of the lyrics are intriguing, if quizzical, like the line “The devil is a point of view,” from the second track ‘Fall In’. Lyrics like “I am the moon, you are the sun,” from the project’s title track, are the kind of poetic language, the language of metaphor, use in myth, rather than the more grounded language typical of most songwriters.

I’ll be honest: I am deeply intrigued by this project, and I am really curious to see how it develops over the remaining 3 albums to released later this summer. This project really holds out a lot of promise, especially for someone who, like me, shares Derek Trucks’s interests in fantasy and mythology. This is a strong start, but I really need to see where TTB takes this. Once the entire scope of this project is revealed, it may prove to be one of the finest musical achievements of the summer, and maybe of the year. On a performance level, there’s no doubt it will be; few bands are as proficient as TTB, and they’re at the top of their game.

Track list: 1. Hear My Dear 2. Fall In 3. I am the Moon 4. Circles ‘Round the Sun 5. Pasaquan Record Label: Fantasy Records Release date: Friday June 3rd Buy ‘I am the Moon’ now

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