On his first studio album in four years, the big man with the big baritone voice and a seemingly limitless knowledge of classic rock & roll, blues, country, gospel, and honky-tonk, pumps out another 14 tracks of joyful genre crossing roots music. Not a songwriter, LaBeef reinterprets classics like Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business," Big Joe Turner's "Honey Hush," and Tony Joe White's "Polk Salad Annie" as if he wrote the tunes himself, filtering them though his own eclectic influences. There aren't many artists who sound as comfortable blowing through the surf instrumental "Wipeout," then immediately nuzzling up to Maria Muldaur as a duet partner on the following track with a bluesy cover of Slim Harpo's "Raining in My Heart," but LaBeef makes it seem simple and natural. At 65, he's refined his unique approach, which he's been honing for the past 40 years, but that doesn't mean there aren't surprises here. Even when the singer tackles hoary fare like "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," it seems fresh and inspired. Obscure covers from Hank Williams ("The Blues Come Around,") and Ernest Tubb (the title track) show LaBeef's depth of knowledge from his sources, and place him as one of the most talented and under-recognized interpreters of traditional C&W...and blues...and rock & roll. Sleepy LaBeef may not do it all, but he does a lot and, most importantly, on Tomorrow Never Comes he makes it look easy.
Tomorrow Never Comes Review
by Hal Horowitz