The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier


Tony Joe White

Yep Roc/Planet

★★★ ✩

WHILE he could be ac­cused of be­ing an old stickin-the-mud, Tony Joe White knows he’s on solid ground with swamp rock, the en­dur­ing sound he helped to le­git­imise. The singer-song­writer’s roots are so deeply en­trenched in the south­ern back­woods that he risks self-par­ody. The Louisianan’s lan­guid singing style, a bot­tom-end drawl that long has been a call­ing card, and his ca­sual fuzzbox/wah-wah pedal-en­hanced elec­tric gui­tar com­bine with a stripped-back record­ing ap­proach to sug­gest that the sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian is barely ex­ert­ing him­self. That is White’s strength and weak­ness. Cut live-to-tape in White’s home stu­dio in mostly sin­gle takes with drum­mer Bryan

‘‘ Cadil­lac’’ Owings and bass player Steve ‘‘ Troll’’ For­rest, Hoodoo could be con­strued as a long jam ses­sion with pro­tracted gui­tar breaks. It’s doubt­ful whether there’s any­thing on TJW’s 33rd re­lease to match the cal­i­bre of his best-known songs Rainy

Night in Ge­or­gia and Polk Salad An­nie, sev­eral tracks could in­vei­gle their way into lis­ten­ers’ grey mat­ter. Trade­mark swamp-rock­ers The Gift and Who You Gonna Hoodoo Now? and the shuf­fling

blues Gypsy Epi­logue and Sweet Tooth are

po­ten­tial can­di­dates. Lyri­cally, 9 Foot Sack, White’s mum­bled rec­ol­lec­tion of an im­pov­er­ished child­hood on a cot­ton farm (‘‘we al­ways was happy hav­ing a roof over our head’’) and the

har­mon­ica-boosted The Flood, in which the

song­writer talks of wit­ness­ing ‘‘ gui­tars float­ing down the river’’, take the ear.

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