REVIEW: Sonny Landreth’s “Blacktop Run” is Trademark Guitar Mastery

Reviews

Sonny Landreth returns on February 21st with Blacktop Run on Provogue Records. Recorded at Dockside Studios south of Lafayette adjacent to the Vermillion River, Blacktop Run finds Landreth reunited with producer RS Field as well as co-producer Tony Daigle. Landreth and Field most notably partnered on Landreth’s first three albums, and this new collection finds that the spark of collaboration remains between the pair. Joining in for the festivities are bassist David Ransom, drummer Brian Brignac and Steve Conn on keys. Blacktop Run is a ten track romp through blues tinged explorations, ranging from fiery instrumentals, to soulful acoustic ballads and more. Nearly always present is Landreth’s trademark mastery of the guitar, and bottleneck slide that he’s so well known for. Landreth’s skills as a player have earned him Grammy nominations, a dragon’s horde of various blues awards and multiple appearances at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival.

In fact, Clapton has been quoted as saying, “Sonny Landreth is probably the most underestimated musician on the planet, and also probably one of the most advanced.” Quite an impressive accolade coming from one master to another, and definitely well earned. “Blacktop Run” is a release that will appeal to much more than just blues aficionados. It’s an album that captures familiarity, skill and a musician always seeking fresh paths for their artistic expressions. Take for example the album’s closing track, “Something Grand.” The wistful ballad is the first recording in several years not to even feature a guitar solo, and that’s part of what makes it special.

Sonny Landreth is known as the “King of Slydeco,” a reminder of his style of intrinsic slide playing, but also a call out to his early beginnings playing with the “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band. From there, Landreth has released at least a dozen solo albums and guested on a wealth of recordings over the years, ranging from John Hiatt, Eric Johnson, John Mayall, Marshall Crenshaw, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Loggins and many more. Landreth’s technique of playing has inspired countless aspiring slide players to try and figure out just how he does what he does. Still, no one does what he does with such precision.

The entire album is fabulous, with songs that have seemingly been placed strategically to build and accentuate each other. This is definitely a release that is best appreciated as a complete effort rather than individual pieces. But with that said, I found my personal highlights in the smoking instrumental, “Lover Dance With Me” that seamlessly flows into the bouncy fun of “Mule” before returning to jazzy tinged slide fireworks in “Groovy Goddess.” The title track, and the environmental concerns addressed in “Wilds of Wonder” also stood out. “Blacktop Run” is quite engaging sonically as is the album’s eclecticism. It’s a wonderful sounding release, capturing nuances, tone and textures. Definitely one that deserves your attention. Find out more information on Sonny Landreth here: https://sonnylandreth.com/

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