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Power of the Pontchartrain

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Album Review

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.


Born: 17 November 1967 in Baton Rouge, LA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Tab Benoit makes his home near New Orleans in Houma, Louisiana. Born November 17, 1967, he's one of a handful of bright rising stars on the modern blues scene. For most of the 1990s and into the 2000s, he's worked each of his records the old-fashioned way, by playing anywhere and everywhere he and his band can play. Unlike so many others before him, Benoit understands that blues is not a medium in favor with 50,000-watt commercial rock radio stations, so as a consequence,...
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Power of the Pontchartrain, Tab Benoit
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