Even guitarists who don’t play slide know scary supernatural slide mastery when they hear it. Some guitarists won’t go down that rabbit hole, realizing they’ll never reach the level of Elmore James, Son House, Robert Nighthawk, or Earl Hooker. Today, guitarists like Ry Cooder, David Lindley, and Derek Trucks are still blowing minds, but few have the magical feel and touch of Sonny Landreth.
His new double live album brings together back-catalogue material, songs from his previous album Bound By The Blues, and the taste of Louisiana. Choosing to perform separate electric and acoustic sets with his close buddies, this collection is full of hypnotic soul that will compel involuntary body movement.
The album features Landreth front and center with Dave Ranson on ukulele bass, Brian Brignac on cajón, Steve Conn on accordion, and Sam Broussard on acoustic guitar. Conn’s accordion is the secret ingredient to the overall sound, giving the record its Cajun ambiance. Many of Landreth’s previously recorded electric songs get the acoustic treatment adding a stripped-down poignancy.
This double disc of 16 tunes dating back to 1981’s “Blues Attack” is 93 minutes of pure bottleneck beauty. His performance and guitar tone in both sets is sublime as he covers crowd favorites “Creole Angel,” “U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile,” “Hell At Home,” and “Key To The Highway.”
The transition from acoustic to electric is effortless as the band launches into an energetic version “Back To Bayou Teche.” The instrumental “The Milky Way Home” originally from the 2008 album From The Reach, provides a respite from the downhome feel of “True Blue,” which preceded it. “The Milky Way Home” is a soaring instrumental showcase that would allow Landreth to go toe-to-toe with any guitarist on a G3 tour.
He continues this pace on “Brave New Girl” and “Umbresso” before returning to the vocal mic on “Soul Salvation.” He winds things up with “Walkin’ Blues” and “The One And Only Truth” with Steve Conn taking over on vocals.
This ends an enjoyable career-spanning double set balancing Landreth’s connection to humanity and upper-echelon slide. The musicians have a chemistry forged through long-term friendship and admiration, which makes hearing them perform together a treat.
Regardless of how you feel about blues or the musical influence of New Orleans, Live In Lafayette will compel you to move your body, tap your toes, stomp your feet, and clap your hands.
This article originally appeared in VG October 2017 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.