Released on the Columbia Records label in January 2009, “Already Free” marked a distinct turn in musical emphasis for the Derek Trucks Band. With Derek Trucks’ phenomenal slide-guitar playing in “free-form” jam-style tunes and complex jazz arrangements, featured on previous albums; the band had garnered many loyal fans.
With the appearance of “Already Free,” a new mix of musical styles showcases an even tighter band who are at home as much with straight-ahead soul and funk, as they are with their brilliant more improvisational playing.
The opening track, an expansive version of Bob Dylan’s Down In the Flood, is a fine combination of a gritty vocal by singer, Mike Mattison, a compelling rhythm laid down by drummer Yonrico Scott, keyboard player Kofi Burbridge and bassist Todd Smallie, and Trucks’ guitar. Starting out with a finger-picked country-blues figure, Trucks then uses his Dunlop slide to create a metallic sounding, driving sound. Mattison sings a gritty vocal interpretation of the song, and then we are treated to the great free-flowing playing of Derek Trucks. Conga player and percussionist Count M’Butu rounds out the band with his singularly complex mix of rhythmic wizardry.There are several Trucks/Mattison penned songs and a couple of others where co-producer Doyle Bramhall II also shares in the songwriting. Get What You Deserve hearkens back to a pounding, blues-based style of the great that evokes bands such as Cream, with an added touch of Memphis-type soul. Back Where We Started is a song Trucks co-wrote with Warren Haynes and is lovely ballad sung by Susan Tedeschi and with Derek playing sarod. The counterpoint of the North Indian music’s unique intonation and elevating sound with Tedeschi’s warm vocal is a fine combination.
Rounding out the album with the title track, the song Already Free, is short and simple dialogue between Mike Mattison and Derek Trucks. The gospel-infused vocal and the dobro sound of Trucks’ melodic playing proclaim what this band is all about.
In addition to Tedeschi and Bramhall II, musicians also featured on some tracks are Oteil Burbridge and Eric Krasno.
The Derek Trucks Band album was the last recording Derek Trucks released before he teamed up with his wife Susan Tedeschi and formed the Tedeschi Trucks band. Since then, all of Derek Trucks releases have been in partnership with his wife Susan Tedeschi and their fabulous group of musicians.
Derek Trucks Band Already Free