Album Reviews

Jeff Plankenhorn

SoulSlide

Artist:     Jeff Plankenhorn

Album:     SoulSlide

Label:     Lounge Side Records

Release Date:     03/18/2016

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Widely respected Austin-based and in-demand session guitarist Jeff Plankenhorn steps forth with both a solo project and his newly designed guitar which carries his nickname, “The Plank.” The guitar is a special stand-up lap steel. “My dream was to mix Sacred Steel influences like the Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolph with the Dobro stylings of Jerry Douglas and Uncle Josh Graves,” says Plankenhorn about the new sound. If you are not familiar with him, my guess is that you’ve heard him live or on record with the likes of Ruthie Foster, Joe Ely, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Eliza Gilkyson or other Texas-based artists. Foster, Malford Milligan, the remaining core of the Resentments, among others, come aboard for this excursion of mostly self or collaboratively penned bluesy, soulful tunes. The album was recorded in three different studios, and the L.A. sessions include Ross Hogarth, Miles Zuniga, Peter Adams and Tim Pierce.

Plankenhorn has always been a strong, emotive vocalist and is becoming increasingly confident as writer. Even so, he shares the wealth with several talented musicians like vocalist Malford Milligan on Sam & Dave’s “You Got Me Hummin’.” Milligan and Plankenhorn have been playing regularly and collaborating on tunes since Jeff played the late Stephen Bruton’s guitar parts on the tribute album recorded at Austin’s famed Saxon Pub, An Evening with the Songs of Stephen Bruton. In fact, Jeff’s band, comprised by Bruton’s former rhythm section: Brannen Temple on drums and Yoggie on bass as well as guitarist/keyboardist Dave Scher, plays regularly at the Saxon Pub.

Ruthie Foster wails away with Jeff on the Stones inspired “Like Flowers,” and returns for backup on the rousing “Dirty Floor.” The first five tracks, excepting the slow burner “Trouble Find Me,” begin the album at a blistering pace before Jeff eases into the brief instrumental, “Kansas City Nocturne.” The second half of the disc is more varied in tempo and tone. Bruton’s other band, the Resentments, back up Jeff on “Vagabond Moonlight” and “Live Today.” This is indicative of how it usually goes in Austin, where Plankenhorn just finished multiple gigs at SXSW, playing with the likes of the Apostles of Manchaca, the Purgatory Players and the Resentments. Expect Jeff to stay busy both in Austin and on the national touring and festival circuit. In the meantime, slide into the soulful grooves of SoulSlide. For more information on “The Plank” guitar, visit www.empyrealinstruments.com.

-Jim Hynes

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