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April 2009

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Eric Lindell
Gulf Coast Highway
Alligator Records

Eric Lindell

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, and bandleader Eric Lindell is one of Alligator’s newest and youngest modern roots music artists. Gulf Coast Highway (Alligator) is his third release for them in four years.

His hip, swamp pop music appeals to youth as well as free-spirited boomers. The Northern California native spent a lot of time in San Francisco, where he absorbed the musical sounds of the city. After performing with a few transitory bands on the West Coast, Lindell formed his own group in 1993. Quickly, he gained a sect type of audience in California. He left for New York in 1998, gigged there regularly, then relocated to New Orleans in 1999. There, he discovered the roots music scene and learned the ability to mix music of different cultures. Before long, Stanton Moore (drums) and Rob Mercurio (bass) – of the popular and funky Crescent City band Galactic – began sitting in with Lindell.

Though he currently lives in the Florida panhandle, Lindell proudly states, “The new CD is a celebration of my last ten years living on the Gulf Coast.” Unlike popular rap/rockers who remanufacture hits by sampling the music of others, the cheerful guitarist and throaty-voiced singer inventively creates his own music. The same contagious spirit that has motivated The Big Easy for years can be heard in his music and lyrics. Fifteen short songs garner your attention with their punchy rhythms. There is a natural progression from one song to the next. No single instrument hogs the spotlight or gets too many solos.

This artist and CD is all about creating and performing music as an ensemble. Backing Lindell are the members of his road band and New Orleans friends such as the aforementioned members of Galactic and Jimmy Carpenter (tenor sax).

Lindell’s music is retrospective-sounding yet it is also forward-looking. The best example of this is heard on "Turnin’ It Out." The upbeat rhythm and positive message of "If Love Can’t Find A Way" encourages you. The 40-year-old musician resembles someone half his age. So, you won‘t be surprised that many of the songs are about love. At any and all costs, he tries to win a woman’s love on "Willin’ And Able." While wah-wah guitar simmers atop the heat of New Orleans brass and a gumbo of urban Americana, the lady-infatuated man declares, “I changed my ways/won’t be ramblin’ all night long.”

Soulful horns practically enable the much needed social change that’s sung about on "Love And Compassion." "Lullaby For Mercy Ann" is a lovely and romantic melody, where Lindell acknowledges “Your love is a beautiful thing.”

A few of the songs – particularly the covers – were not formed from the same mold as the 12 original songs. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s "I Can Get Off On You" has a noticeably different rhythm. It’s a rockin’ waltz with singalong lyrics “take back the weed/take back the cocaine baby/take back the pills/take back the whiskey too.” Delbert McClinton’s country rock "Here Comes The Blues Again" sounds like it was the inspiration behind the Rolling Stones’ "Far Away Eyes." The contemporary roadhouse rocker practically emulates McClinton’s blue-eyed soul voice on Buck Owens’ "Crying Time." Last of all, the feverish instrumental "Raw Doggin’" is in the vein of modern day jam bands like the Derek Trucks Band.

For 46 minutes, Lindell is energized but he wisely exercises some constraint along the journey. His hook-laden melodies are so strong and catchy, the lyrics tend to fade and become unnoticed. You’ll hear a lot of influence from all the American roots music genres. But most of all, you’ll hear the genuine originality that is Eric Lindell. And it’s an exciting celebration.

--- Tim Holek

Life is good for Eric Lindell these days. I had the opportunity to catch his recent show here in Phoenix and the infectious energy of Eric and his band is contagious. You can find more of Eric’s crazy energy on his latest Alligator Records release, Gulf Coast Highway.

Kicking off the disc is the tune “If Love Can’t Find a Way.” From Eric’s perspective, a world without love is a sad world indeed and there has to be a better way. “If love ain’t on your mind…and strong all down the line…it’s a sad and lonely day, baby…when love can’t find a way…there ain’t no reason you can try to love again…let’s turn this love around!” So of course we move on to find that Eric is: “Willin and Able.” Here we find that Eric is ready to stand up and settle down. “After all this time…and losing my mind…you’re still the one…I’m willin' to do…what you need me to do…to win your love!” If you’ve never seen him live, Eric is a wicked guitar player and his solo on this cut is only the beginning. Eric’s preoccupation with love continues with our next tune, “Love and Compassion.” “A good man would lend a hand…and never turn his back…its love and compassion that some folks lack…a good woman will keep it coming…that true blue love!”

Frenetic energy marks the intro to our next tune, “This Love is Gonna Last.” “I know this love…baby, this love is gonna last!” A slower tempo marks the intro to “Turnin’ It Out”. “We’ll be making…making something out of this…turnin’ it out…that’s all I can do!” This is a good love and Eric’s willing to work hard to keep it on the right track. Sean Carey’s harp appears front and center as Eric laments his inability to change in “It’s a drag”. “Girl, can you do it…what can you say…you ain’t never, ever gonna change…what can you do it…how should you be?” No matter what his intentions, it’s hard for Eric to change his ways.

“Lullaby for Mercy Ann” is up next and a tribute to Eric’s daughter. “Sweet sugar dumpling, your love is really something…something to see…you remind me every day…that love is a beautiful thing!” Eric is definitely a proud papa and you know this tune is special to him. We move on to “The Look” and here we find Eric turned on by the fact that his baby gave him, “that look.” “She gave that look…that’s all it took!” I think that’s enough said here.

Eric’s love for his woman continues in “I Can Get Off on You.” At this point Eric is willing to give up all of vices for the woman he loves. “Take back the weed, take back the cocaine baby…take back the pills…take back the whiskey, too…I don’t need them now…your love is all that I was after…I can get by…I can get off on you!” “Country Livin’ finds Eric thinking about a simpler life, one that his woman seems to appreciate. “She’s doing all the things her mama said…she raised on catfish, grits and bread…country loving made my life complete…country livin you’re on my mind!”

Tempo slows down for the first time on this disc with “Dirty Bird.” “Dirty bird…baby don’t be shy…you’re dirty talk…but I can’t deny you…come on girl, you’re the only one!” “I’ll Be Around” finds Eric getting mixed messages, ones he can’t seem to interpret. “Just as one and one and four make six…I never, ever know what the hell you’re doing next…let me know, I’ll be around awhile…pick up your phone and dial…let me know.” Sounds like this one is too much work to me.

A Delbert McClinton tune, “Here Comes the Blues Again,” is the first non-original tune on the disc. “I know you’ve been gone…for less than an hour…already I feel drained…of all my power…suddenly I’m all alone…in a place that just ain’t home…here comes the blues again…and they’re going to get me!” We go from McClinton to Buck Owens with Eric including his rendition of “Crying Time.” “It’s crying time again…you’re going to leave me…I can tell by that faraway look in your eye…I can tell, baby, baby by the way you hold me…it won’t be long before its…crying time!”

Funky B3 organ playing from Marc Adams highlights the last song on this energetic ride, “Raw Doggin.” “Raw Doggin” is an instrumental and gives the band its chance to air out whatever energy they may have left. Eric is surrounded by talented players and this has been quite a ride.

I find that Gulf Coast Highway marks a bit of a departure for Eric in the sense that its energy level reflects a different environment than the laid-back, soulful musings of his previous two discs for Alligator. The energy is good, it suits Eric and I know the audience here in Phoenix definitely appreciated the vibe from the new songs. The liner is full of pictures taken by Eric and Sarah Paul that reflect the journey of a music man on vacation along the Gulf Coast Highway. I think we can safely say it was a hell of a trip. Catch Eric when you can and check out his new disc at

--- Kyle Deibler


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