Mike Zito review…June 28, 2013…

MIKE ZITO

GONE TO TEXAS

RUF RECORDS

GONE TO TEXAS–RAINBOW BRIDGE–I NEVER KNEW A HURRICANE–DON’T THINK ‘CAUSE YOU’RE PRETTY–DEATH ROW–DON’T BREAK A LEG–TAKE IT EASY–THE ROAD NEVER ENDS–SUBTRACTION BLUES–HELL ON ME–VOICES IN DALLAS–WINGS OF FREEDOM–LET YOUR LOVE SHINE ON ME

 

In the old days, if a person was “gone to Texas,” it meant they were on the run from something, and looking for a redemptive fresh start.  Mike Zito literally and figuratively went to Texas several years ago (southeast Texas, to be exact), to leave his personal demons in the dust and get his career in order.  For his Ruf Records debut, aptly-entitled “Gone To Texas,” Zito and his band, The Wheel–Jimmy Carpenter on sax and guitars, Rob Lee on drums, and Scot Sutherland on bass–are joined by a few special guests that add an extra dimension to these nine originals and two covers.

 

Mike’s autobiography of sorts is the leadoff title cut, and is reminiscent of vintage Allman Brothers.  This musical journey not only goes thru the many Texas influences in Mike’s music, but also includes elements of Hill Country and Delta blues, and a shot of New Orleans-styled soul.

 

Check out the grungy, echo-effect slide guitar that permeates “Just ‘Cause You’re Pretty,” and the haunting acoustic admissions of a guilty man on “Death Row.”  “Subtraction Blues” uses that second-line pattern to explain a lover who, “when she leaves, she takes a little piece of me along with her.”  “Voices In Dallas” and “Hell On Me” deal with excesses and addictions, but they lead to redemption found by learning to fly on “Wings Of Freedom.”  The set closes with Mike’s brilliant take on Blind Boy Fuller’s “Let Your Love Shine On Me.’

 

Our favorites included the cuts with the special guests.  “Rainbow Bridge” details the trials of a long-haul trucker trying to make it home to a lover, and features duet vocals from Susan Cowsill and fiery slide from Sonny Landreth.  And, the life of a traveling bluesman is documented in “The Road Never Ends,” and pairs Mike with Delbert McClinton on this Elmore James-ish, good-time slab of slide and harp-driven blues.

 

With Mike Zito’s Ruf debut, “Gone To Texas,” he has crafted his most blues-oriented album to date.  This one has it all—great musicianship and clever songwriting, from one of the rising young stars of contemporary blues.   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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