Sunday, July 20, 2008

The True False Identity

Artist : T Bone Burnett (Joseph Henry Burnett, b. 1948)
Album Title : The True False Identity (59:30 minutes)
Genre : Rock (50's & 60's)
Rating : ***** *½ (out of 10*)
This Week I'm Listening To...
T Bone Burnett is a guitarist, songwriter, and producer, who was one of two awesome lead guitars at the recent Alison Krauss/Robert Plant concert. The True False Identity is his 2006 solo release, and was his first new studio album in 14 years.
What's To Like...
There's a wide variety of musical styles and influences here - some blues, some ballads, and even a teensy bit of Jimi Hendrix-sounding stuff. But it is all tied together by an overlying 50's-60's Rock beat. Unsurprisingly, the guitar-work that takes center stage. Simply put, T Bone is a guitar god.
YouTube Links...
You can hear track #2, Palestine, Texas (audio only) from tTFI here. A live version of track #10, Earlier Baghdad - The Bounce, can be seen/heard here. In fact, this latter live track is IMHO better than the studio version.
What's Not To Like...
His guitar-playing may be fantastic, but T Bone's voice here is strictly so-so. But it's the lyrics themselves that are the weakest link. The rhyming schemes are for the most part, unambitious. One example :
Joe wasn't slow
But didn't know
How to blow
All the dough
From the show...
And while there are some catchy phrases scattered throughout the songs, they somehow are either too esoteric or too vague to give the song lyrics as a whole much coherency. Example #2 :
When you're out for revenge
Dig two graves,
When you run from the truth
It comes in waves.
Nice sounding, and the meter is good. But on further analysis, that verse doesn't make much sense.
I'd Like My T-Bone Rare, Please...
Not only is he spectacular on guitar, but T Bone also has the Midas Touch when it comes to producing albums. His resumé includes Krauss/Plant's Raising Sand, and the soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou?
It's a pity then that The True False Identity isn't a better effort. Perhaps T Bone should have someone else do the arranging of his songs, re-write the lyrics, and double the length of all the guitar soloes.
In the end, T Bone's marvelous and complex guitar-playing (slightly-more-than) compensates for the shortcomings of the lyrics and song-arranging. We'll give this a "medium well" 6½ stars, and try to find his "20-20" album, which reportedly is an anthology of his 20 years of solo work.

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