Tab Benoit

Power of the Pontchartrain

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    8
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Louisiana journeyman swamp rocker Tab Benoit has been churning out an album a year since at least 2002, and between them he stays on the road playing every festival, club, and bar that'll have him. It would seem inevitable that the quality of these studio recordings would decline. But, at least as of 2007's Power of the Pontchartrain, that isn't the case. If anything, this might be the best of a very good lot, as Benoit again teams with Louisiana's Le Roux group (who once backed legend Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and helped on Benoit's previous release) for another 52-minute wade through muggy yet taut bayou blues. Part of the reason Benoit's recent albums are so strong is that he doesn't insist on playing original material, instead cherry-picking nuggets rearranged to suit his approach. This works particularly well here since he unearths terrific, often obscure material from writers such as Julie Miller (two tracks), David Egan (two others), and even Stephen Stills (a not entirely necessary "For What It's Worth"). Everything gets run through his deep Southern groove, ultimately sounding like Tab Benoit songs, or at least tunes written with him in mind. Benoit abandons the country twang he successfully experimented with on 2006's Brother to the Blues, digging deeper into straight blues (Lonnie Johnson's "Somebody's Got to Go"), Cajun ("Sac-au-Lait Fishing," Benoit's only original here), and the deep soul ballads ("I'm Guilty of Lovin' You") he has typically included on every album. His whiskey- soaked vocals bring warmth and passion to the songs and when he lets loose on that beat-up Telecaster on the title track, the Buffalo Springfield tune, and "Addicted," he shows another side of his talents. The band stays in the pocket throughout, freeing Benoit to concentrate on singing and playing, with the result that Power of the Pontchartrain is not just another strong entry in Tab Benoit's increasingly thick catalog, but also one of his most defining albums.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
4:23
2 4:43
3 5:06
4 6:07
5 5:19
6 5:05
7 3:56
8 4:19
9 4:18
10 4:59
11 4:21
blue highlight denotes track pick