Rich Man – Doyle Bramhall II (Concord Records)
Doyle Bramhall II first came on my radar with the release of his band the Arc Angels debut album in 1992. Paired with fellow Austin-ite Charlie Sexton and the Double Trouble rhythm section I was immediately drawn to the raw, sonic intensity of their sound.
It is that sonic intensity that has carried through all of his music moving forward from that point; this is a guy who truly leans into his music. His latest, Rich Man, features a broad based blend of musical styles that may be a bit jarring for Bramhall purists, I think these songs truly hand well together.
Lots of people try to lay claim to being soul singers, but for me, there is a quality to not only the voice, but the musical approach that truly separates real soul singers from those who don’t quite make the cut. Doyle Bramhall II is one of those true soulful singers. Right from the first listen I picked up on real Lenny Kravitz vibe in the grooves of Rich Man, a driving rock power topped with Bramhall’s soulful croon. By the third or fourth spin, I was reaching for Kravitz’s, 5 CD.
Right from the opening riffs of The Veil, I was hooked by the cascading production, vocal driven feel, topped with classic Hammond B3 and layers of guitar. Your Mama Can’t Help, brings a modern feel to a classic blues meter. There is a mystical, Indian feel to My People which features the interesting opening pairing of a Harmonium pump organ and a saranji, which is a traditional stringed, bowed instrument and the chanted salutation refrain, “namaskar, inshallah, pranamasana.” Bramhall displays just the right of reverence to his roots on his cover of Jimi Hendrix, Hear My Train A Comin.
Rich Man, makes it easy to understand why such a diverse array of artists ranging from Eric Clapton to Roger Waters and Treseshi Trucks to Sheryl Crow have tapped Bramhall for studio, writing, live and production gigs. In an era chock full of forgettable, Auto-Tuned pabulum puke, passed off as important music, it’s nice to be served up an occasional dose of the real deal.