New West Records
‘Tis a fact that Randall Bramblett has a long history in the musical trenches, dating back to his days with Sea Level back in the 70s … and you may know him best for his work supporting Gov’t Mule, Levon Helm, Widespread Panic, and Gregg Allman – to name just a few. But if you’ve never dug into Randall Bramblett’s catalog of solo albums (he’s up to nine of ‘em), you’re missing out, my friend. He may be a super sideman, but Randall Bramblett is a helluva bandleader, too. One spin of his latest, The Bright Spots, and you’re going to know it, hands down.
If you had to boil The Bright Spots down to one word, “soul” would probably be the candidate, as the album’s dozen tunes are loaded with it – in a number of forms. Bramblett sounds like Tom Waits (a few thousand packs of Chesterfields ago) on the herky-jerky cool of “Whatever That Is”, while “All Is Well” features some cool piano by Bramblett beneath a vocal laced with a handful of mellow Chris Rea-style gravel. The title of “Detox Bracelet” sounds like the soundtrack to a trailer park horrorshow, it’s actually a lovely, poignant piece of work that glides along gently, running a finger along the backbone of your heart.
There are moments when Bramblett lets things drift wide: threads of sound from far reaches of the globe are woven through “John The Baptist”. Same with “Every Saint”: that fingerpicked blues guitar in the foreground might be right out of Memphis, but the samples of the little children playing in the water that welcome the tune in are from a longitude a long ways away. A loosey-goosey rubbery bassline provides the underpinnings for “Trying To Steal A Minute” in direct contrast to the gritty teethgrind of the vocals; Bramblett’s let-it-fly testimony on “You Bring Me Down” administers even more wallop with sultry Raelette-style backing vox, mean-ass horns, and some midnight-funk percussion work.
The end result of all this is a cool album that combines the vibe of a real-as-hell vintage soulman with modern musical ideas. You could listen to The Bright Spots all night, baby.
Brian Robbins misplaced his detox bracelet over at www.brian-robbins.com