On February 19th, 2021, the ever prolific Reed Turchi will release two very different full length albums: I’ve Chosen Love and Creosote Flats. I’ve Chosen Love is a record steeped in the groove and soul of Memphis and the Mississippi River and Creosote Flats is blues that sound freshly emerged from the arid West.
I’ve Chosen Love (4 out of 5 Stars) is a two part album, a yin-and-yang of production techniques and recording mentality. Half of the songs are written using “love” as a lyrical cornerstone, and built on a foundation of soul and blues inspiration. All were written and mixed in Memphis with the spirit of STAX, Al Green, and Isaac Hayes hovering near, but recorded in the funky blues-rock studio Bud’s Recording Service in Austin.
The songs, “I’ve Chosen Love,” “Tell Somebody What Love Is,” “Don’t Let Love Slip Away,” and “Keep on Keepin On” were crafted with a big studio band, around the core of double-drummers Johnny Radelat (Gary Clark Jr) and Lemuel Hayes (Cindy Wilson), with Anthony Farrell (JJ Grey & Mofro / Greyhounds) on bass. As the tracks grew, Anthony Farrell pushed them from roots-rock to a more cinematic scope with his layered synth work. Art Edmaiston brought a true Memphis vibe with saxophone on “Keep On.” And vocal performances by Heather Moulder and Kathleen Turchi made the album a true collective piece.
On the flip-side, the rest of the album was recorded well into COVID quarantine, mostly outdoors in the backyard on a late summer night in Nashville, surrounded by cicadas. In contrast to the studio-tight sound, these more extended tracks feature a neighborhood band playing only for themselves. With an all-Mississippi rhythm section of Wallace Lester (Como Mama’s, Reverend John Wilkins) on drums and Lee McAlilly on bass hypnotically grooving, and Heather Moulder’s keyboards serving double-duty between rhythm section and lead, there couldn’t be a better dance floor for the twin guitars of Reed Turchi and Ben Sparaco to spin through.
Due to the state of the world beyond anyone’s control I’ve Chosen Love has become an amazingly appropriate album of our uncertain times. It is a combination of the carefully-planned out and the freely improvised joy in spontaneous performance with a group of friends under the summer moon.
Its pervasive ethereal mood typifies Mazzy Star or Beach House sensibilities. I’ve Chosen Love is receiving a healthy dose of radio airplay, especially on Los Angeles stalwart KCRW, thereby fueling rapid growth on streaming platforms.
Album number 2 is Creosote Flats (4.5 out of 5 Stars), a collaboration with famed western landscape photographer Mark Klett. In order to see the songs in the way Turchi did when he was writing them, the limited edition vinyl includes a deluxe photo book, of Mark Klett’s photos that accompany each individual song.
Creosote Flats is a geographic term for the soft-sloping steppes that lead to canyonlands and cliffs, a favorite environment of the creosote bush, the origin of the desert “rain” smell. Creosote is ancient — there is a colony still living that’s nearly 12,000 years old, and driving through much of the desert in Arizona and California, is the dominant plant on the horizon, perfuming the air.
Reed Turchi’s guitar playing on ‘Creosote Flats’ brings to mind the gems on some early Ry Cooder and John Hammond albums.
In Reed’s own words:
Creosote Flats as an album aims to evoke the multi-sensory experience of the Sonoran desert that has brought inspiration my whole life: I’ve gone out there annually since I was a kiddo, and before I was born my parents lived out there, so returning always feels like revisiting the world before me.
In 2014, on tour in Europe driving through the alps with Adriano Viterbini, I was first introduced to Saharan Desert Blues — that floating, levitating pulse — and immediately knew I wanted to create music from those rhythms.
So, on multiple trips to Tucson, I would wake up before dawn and drive out into Saguaro National Park with an acoustic guitar and a field recorder, and sit playing and singing to the sunrise and the birds — sometimes letting the landscape do the singing and only playing instrumentally — and listen back to find what sounded like the most accurate representation of the feelings and place I hoped to somehow translate to tape.
Gradually, from that process, themes and songs emerged. The lyrics are grounded in simple, visceral language based on observations of what I saw around me, and yet, larger metaphorical meanings slowly unspooled on their own accord, and gave the album its shape.
Sonically, I knew I wanted layers of texture and polyrhythm, so I brought the tracks back to Nashville and gathered musicians that were interested in exploring this sound with me — Mike Meadows and Lemuel Hayes on drums, Heather Moulder on keyboards, Lee McAlilly on bass. Similarly to writing the songs, I only provided loose direction for those additional parts, instead allowing the energy of the music, and of photos and videos of the desert I brought in, to shape the musical mentality.
The album is intimate, and personal, but I believe that the sense of spaciousness, nature, and temporality in this world are universal themes.
To purchase visit http://reedturchi.com