Jimmie Vaughan’s musical career has spanned both the blues and rock spectrums. He started as a raw, young guitar player, shifted into the rock influenced Fabulous Thunderbirds and then embarked upon his solo ventures. Baby, Please Come Home displays yet another facet of his talent as a mature, but still vibrant and enthusiastic bandleader. The album reinvigorates fourteen carefully selected blues numbers. While it could be viewed as simply a covers album, Vaughan and his extraordinary band do more than just dust off a couple classics. They take on pieces likely well known to blues aficionados and bend them to their vision of how modern American blues should sound.
The band wastes no time in digging into the Lloyd Price-penned title track. “Baby, Please Come Home” explodes with a blend of horns, drums and bass, buoyed by Vaughan’s crisp, Stratocaster guitar. “Just a Game” slows down the tempo and the focus shifts to clean but colorful vocals and thoughtful instrumental phrases. As with the majority of the selections, no one member or instrument dominates the sound. The walking bass lines combined with precise drumming provide a solid base and continual movement to the songs. Their interplay is enjoyable in and of itself. Familiar blues ideas are spread throughout the tracks. While many songs employ the traditional twelve bar structure, others such as “Be My Lovey Dovey,” are more memorable for the excellent backing vocals heard in the call and response core of the verses.
The middle of the album really shines with a trio of contrasting songs. The instrumental, “Hold It” is a short number with full-bodied Hammond organ sounds trading off with Vaughan’s punchy guitar leads. Immediately following, the band changes gears and slides into one of the album’s highlights, “I’m Still in Love with You.” In a selection of songs notable for their lead guitar riffs and strident horns, a slow and soulful love song, sung over elegant piano playing, displays the versatility of the band. Vaughan reaches even deeper into blues roots on “It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day).” Although technically a rendition of a Ted Jarrett song, the verses are punctuated by a guitar line that approximates a main motif of Robert Johnson’s “Phonograph Blues.”
Like “It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day),” Baby, Please Come Home is filled with nuanced individual playing and understated technical prowess. This is not to suggest that there isn’t a great deal of heart and emotion to be found throughout the album. Whereas a band less confident or less mature might attempt to wow listeners with brazen instrumental passages, or a heavily-produced mix, Vaughan and crew keep things interesting through their impassioned take on the blues that would just as easily fit in the 1950s as it does today. The album doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is a quality listen, filled with great songs and the excellence that has become synonymous with the Vaughan name.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Baby, Please Come Home
– I’m Still in Love with You
– It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)
The Big Hit
– Baby, Please Come Home
Review by Willie Witten