Tony Joe White
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.