Artist: Eric Lindell
Album: Matters of the Heart
Label: Red Parlor
Release Date: 04/15/2016
When Lindell was signed to Alligator for whom he made three records, some fell into the trap of conveniently dubbing him a bluesman. That’s only one of the styles this genre defying artist is adept at however, as throughout his twenty year recording career he’s touched on soul, country, doo-wop and authentic roots music too. This, his eighth album, continues that legacy. The respect that fellow players have for him is reflected in the guests he brings aboard for his albums. This one features the clean smooth electric guitar of his long-time cohort Anson Funderburgh (ten tracks) and the acoustic resonator guitar of newer friend Luther Dickinson (four tracks). Musicians just love playing with him as evidenced by the credits that list twenty musicians on this album, including Lindell, who is a quadruple threat as a songwriter, guitarist, singer and harp player.
The album photo of the blissfully content Eric and his wife Sarah is perfectly reflective of the loose, upbeat music that, like Van Morrison’s, seems easy to play but proves to be deceptively challenging to create. Lindell’s many short crisp tunes in the two-four minute range put the onus on the musicians to state their messages emphatically and quickly. Funderburgh, Dickinson, and several keyboardists do just that. You will hear Funderburgh stretch out on the five minute “She Thinks I Still Care” (a radical, swinging take on the George Jones tune). Funderburgh, Dickinson, and pianist Donny Sondal have some tight interplay in the funky “Indian Summer.” The funky, horn punctuated “Take Me Back” is the quintessential three minute radio tune. A full complement of horns and background vocalists drive a relatively obscure Merle Haggard cover, “Here in Frisco.” Similarly the live closer, “Bayou Country” with its resounding chorus, boasts a large ensemble while spotlighting Lindell’s own scintillating electric guitar.
Although he originally hails from California, Lindell’s soulful vocals are right there with other rootsy singers from Louisiana like Marc Broussard and Anders Osborne. The one blue-eyed soul singer that comes to mind most when listening to Lindell is Delbert McClinton. This disc is a welcome addition to his catalog. It’s been five years since West County Drifter, and, like most strong albums, has me reaching back for some of Eric’s previous releases.
When not on tour with his own band he plays with Dragon Smoke, the New Orleans supergroup he co-founded that includes Ivan Neville and Galactic’s Robert Mercurio and Stanton Moore. Lindell’s sets at the upcoming New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival have earned him legendary status. With this new material, he’ll surely be thrilling those audiences again. If you can’t get there, keep this disc handy and continue to check www.ericlindell.com for summer tour dates.