Pre conceptions are not the best thing to bring to the table when reviewing an album. My list went like this: stripped back, acoustic, self penned and focused. However it hadn’t occurred to me that the same laid back guy who supplied his own wardrobe for the filming of ‘The Big Lebowski’, might produce a record that dripped with a drowsy Californian swing.
With T-Bone Burnett at the helm and featuring cameos from stellar performers Ryan Bingham, Sam Phillips, Rosanne Cash and Marc Ribot the album features only two self penned tracks and one co-write. The more I listened the more I began to sense that there is more Burnett than Bridges recorded here.
Bridges vocal delivery is fantastic but somehow seems over worked. He rarely sings alone. On almost every track, verse, middle eight and chorus his murmuring growl is either double tracked or another singer traces his lines. Whether it be insecurity (unlikely) or Burnett’s production trickery (likely) it left me longing to hear him alone.
This album is no classic but it is certainly a very good one with a fair handful of outstanding tracks. The eerie ‘Either Way’ with it’s grandfather clock percussion and lonesome vocals, the barrel house Motown of ‘Blue Car’, the curtain raiser ‘What A Little Bit of Love Can Do’ and the self penned ‘Tumbling Vine’ featuring Marc Ribot’s wily disordered guitar lines are more than enough to please any listener.
The Dude does indeed abide all be it smothered in T-Bone Burnett’s distant distorted guitars.