At the heart of American music
From the Spring 2004 issue.
By Randall Bramblett
New West Records: 2004
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Finding a musical category that's a comfortable fit for an artist can be a tricky business. Consider the case of journeyman Randall Bramblett.
Because he's based in Athens, Ga., and has worked with Gregg Allman, the Atlanta Rhythm Section and Elvin Bishop among others, there's a tendency to label his music Southern Rock. But as a multi-instrumentalist who's especially prolific on keyboards and saxophone, he's toured with Traffic and was a member of the Allman Brothers offshoot fusion group Sea Level.So some like to lump him in with jazz-rock acts. Of course, he's also worked with Gov't Mule and Widespread Panic, making it seem like he's part of the jam-band scene.
Complicating matters even further is Bramblett's newest release, "Thin Places." Here he presents a collection of roots-based, literate songs that recall what was once termed Heartland Rock. It's not hard to imagine the album opener "Nobody's Problem Now" showing up on a Joe Grushecky record or
hearing "Playing Card" covered by someone like Steve Earle.
Bramblett's jazz-rock leanings come to forefront on "Gotta Stop Somewhere" and "Red Booth." And there's even a touch of psychedelic-era Beatles on "Are You Satisfied."
While Bramblett's singing may lack some range, he has a gritty, passionate delivery that suits his material well.
Listeners aren't going to find much hook-laced pop on this collection. They are going to hear a blend of blues, country, rock and soul. It's what Dave Alvin so aptly called "American Music" on an early Blasters album. And maybe that's the best category to slip Bramblett into.
Review by Don Weiner. Don is a writer and editor based in Scottsdale, Ariz.