Album Reviews

Tony Joe White – Hoodoo (Yep Roc)

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Tony Joe White HoodooLike humid Louisiana air that gets under your skin and won’t let go, Tony Joe White’s relaxed, nasty swampy blues provide an unrelenting groove on this release, coinciding with his 70th birthday and his fifty plus years in the music biz.  These sessions were mostly recorded live  in one take in Tony Joe’s Nashville studio.   Even a casual listener will know immediately why White was dubbed The Swamp Fox many decades ago.  His soft, mumbling growl over his spare guitar and the sturdy and, by turns,  improvisational backing of drummer Bryan Owings and bassist Steve Forrest evoke that foggy, drippy, oozy swamp funk sound. White’s had many imitators over the years but none can match his unmistakable, seemingly effortless vibe.  “It’s like everyone is getting the hoodoo sensation. Spontaneity is beautiful”, says White.

While the album is more about the groove than the songs, White delivers autobiographical tales about growing up in rural  Mississippi, (“9 Foot Sack”, “Alligator, Mississippi”), character sketches “Holed Up”, and the tragic images from Nashville’s 2010 flood (‘The Flood”).   Given the royalties that White has amassed over the years for a string of hits like “Rainy Day in Georgia” he could easily be content.  Instead, he chooses to keep writing, playing, and touring.  The joy in his work is clearly evident. Settle in because you won’t easily shake loose from White’s swampy funk.

– Jim Hynes

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