Dudley Taft: Simple Life Review

Dudley Taft is a seasoned mid-Western raised blues guitarist, whose band’s sixth studio album, Simple Life, was released earlier this month. Since the early ‘90s — with his band Space Antelope, started with Trey Anastasio of Phish — Taft has been leaving audiences in awe with his molten hot guitar licks and sensitive songwriting. He is currently on tour, completing his summer run through Europe before returning to the U.S. Southeast.

Rumbling drums, buzzing guitar, and driving bass from Kasey Williams open Simple Life with the intro to “Give Me a Song,” one which gives the listener high expectations for the album. This first song is filled with the crisp, tenor riffs. He also adds a catchy chorus with the crashing drums of the esteemed Walfredo Reyes Jr., who has supported acts such as Santana, Chicago, and Steve Winwood. The chorus features a choir of singers, which appear later on “Shine.” Next comes “Simple Life,” which, like “Give Me a Song,” is written thoughtfully and shows Taft’s ability as a writer and story-teller; he tells universal stories of love, struggle with material things, and a life on the road. The second song on Simple Life features two lead guitars which masterfully play with each other. The album floats through soaring, funky, bluesy riffs — especially evident in the airy, dynamic “Bombs Away” — and Taft’s occasionally flat, but always soulful singing.

The album changes direction after the guitar virtuoso takes the listener through Kenny Neal/Warren Haynes penned ballad, “If Heartaches Were Nickels,”  featuring John Kessler. The slow, unwinding guitar solos on this song do justice to the previous legends who tackled it, Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa. Other than his blues roots, Simple Life illustrates Taft’s Seattle grunge influence, gained while playing there with his band Sweet Water and subsequently the band Second Coming. “Pouring Down” and “Shine” offer a dichotomy of theme and tone with Taft’s impressive shrieking guitar licks in the first and heavy, feedback laden playing in the latter, though “Shine” features a sunny outro that expresses love for his lady. Finally, “Back to You” disrupts the monotony of Taft’s playing by introducing some chicken pickin’ and angry, determined groans. The band ends Simple Life with a jammy outro, fading out with Taft’s noodling.

The Dudley Taft Band’s latest release is one in a long line of albums rife with searing solos and impressive instrumentation from every band member (Not previously mentioned: Mike Taponga and Chris Ellison). Taft’s impressive resume, which features songs in movies such as The Sixth Sense and a nomination for “Best Guitarist” by the European Blues Society, is evident on Simple Life, an album which surely supports the nomination and proves his ability as an open, honest, and skillful songwriter.

The Review: 7.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Give Me a Song
– Simple Life
– Bombs Away
– If Heartaches Were Nickels
– Pouring Down

The Big Hit

– Give Me a Song

Review by Spencer Rubin

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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