On her first outing in three years and her freshman offering for Verve's Forecast label, Susan Tedeschi digs deep into the soul and R&B fakebook for inspiration and comes out a winner. With an all-star band that includes guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, pianist David Palmer, organist Jebin Bruni, bassist Paul Bryan, drummer Jay Bellerose, and guests including husband Derek Trucks and the Blind Boys of Alabama, Tedeschi goes down into her own heart's well for inspiration. Wonderfully produced by Joe Henry, Hope and Desire is truly a singer's showcase of passion and class; she has signature phrasing and is an excellent interpreter. Henry proves that Tedeschi is one hell of a singer. From the roots-country blues of the Jagger and Richards opener, "You Got the Silver," to the hardcore soul of Otis Redding's "Security" (her version is closer to the Etta James reading than Redding's but Tedeschi puts her own hard spin on it), the garbage-can blues guitar of Percy Mayfield's ripping "The Danger Zone," and the finger-poppin' R&B of "Tired of My Tears," Tedeschi proves she's second to none by wringing every ounce of truth from these classic tunes. In addition, her subtle, to-the-bone reading of Bob Dylan's "Lord Protect My Child" (with great Dobro work by Trucks), a definitive version of Iris DeMent's "Sweet Forgiveness," and Dorsey Brunette's "Magnificent Sanctuary Band" offer solid proof that Tedeschi can sing gospel as well. In fact, based on the evidence here, she can sing any damn thing she likes and move your heart, making you believe every word and wail in the grain of a song. That's as high a compliment as one can pay.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek