Son Seals

Lettin' Go

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After spending his entire recording career with Alligator, Frank "Son" Seals' debut release on the Telarc Blues label is also the Chicago bluesman's first album of new material in almost six years. Although he lost part of his leg to diabetes in 1999, as somberly evidenced on the cover photo, little else has changed. Seals' gritty, booming vocals sound as authoritative as ever, and, if anything, the half decade between studio albums has added an even tougher quality to his traditionally gutsy singing. Working with the legendary Al Kooper on Hammond B-3 and top-notch musicians from Conan O'Brien's late night band gives Seals a firm, razor sharp backing on which to lay down his tough Chicago blues. The four-piece horn section and Kooper work wonderfully together. Along with Seals' beefy vocal attack and his fat, stinging guitar tone, he turns in a solid, uncompromising set of primarily original tunes. The 70-minute album would be stronger if some of the weaker tracks like "Osceola Rock," little more than a bland rewrite of "Jailhouse Rock," were omitted. But the album-closing jam with Phish's Trey Anastasio on a remake of Seals' "Funky Bitch" is energized and electric, and with excursions into gospel, light funk, gritty country, Southern R&B, and even a sensitive ballad, the guitarist expands his palette while staying within the blues framework. All of which makes Lettin' Go a sturdy, hard-hitting, and above all welcome comeback album from one of the acknowledged greats of Chicago blues guitar.

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