Doin' Fine Sans SRV
To contemporary blues fans, the name Double Trouble is automatically and irreversibly associated with the now-legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan. And although drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon have played under many other names throughout their careers, Double Trouble is the one that's proved the most lasting.
In their first release since Vaughn's death ten years ago, Double Trouble shows the stuff that made them all four-time Grammy winners. Layton and Shannon are joined by the likes of artists from Susan Tedeschi and Kenny Wayne Shepherd to Willie Nelson and Dr. John.
The two opening cuts, while not actually flawed, are just forgettable. Luckily, the release finishes much more strongly than it starts. "Say One Thing" brings a little welcome funk rhythm to the mix with Doyle Bramhall II singing lead. "Skyscraper" is yet another funky number featuring the unusual voice of Malford Milligan on lead vocals. Johnny Lang also contributes his distinct voice and guitar work to "Groundhog Day".
In the fourth cut, fellow Tone-Cool artist Susan Tedeschi puts a girl-power spin on the lead vocals in a cover of Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll." Backed by Kenny Wayne Shepherd on the guitar solos, it's close enough to the original to pay props while not following it note for note. (I always took Shepherd for a pretty decent guitarist, but comparing his version to the original shows how far he has yet to go. But then again, he's still a youngster.)
"She's All Right" is the only cut that comes close to the SRV style. Both it and the previous number, "In the Middle of the Night," mark the beginning of a welcome move in the direction of more straightforward blues. "Baby, There's No One Like You," is classic Dr. John piano blues, with Willie Nelson sliding right in with some moody guitar work.
The album closes with a nod to SRV in the form of a ten-second live cut. It's a fitting tribute to the man who Layton describes as a great influence, both spiritually and inspirationally, that still exists for him today. With this release, Double Trouble has done an admirable job of walking in the shadow of a legend and yet being true to themselves.