Doug Wamble

Doug Wamble

E1 Music, 2010

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Personally, I have never understood the appeal of turducken.  Turkey, stuffed inside duck, stuffed inside chicken?  How demented do you have to be to even come up with something like that?

When it comes to music, however, it’s a different matter -- because Doug Wamble manages to stuff country inside gospel-blues inside jazz and make it sound like the most natural thing in the world.

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Wamble comes out of the jazz tradition, but his musical reach acknowledges few if any boundaries.  On this, his third solo disc for E1 (formerly Koch, and still the biggest indie label around), Wamble is again backed by the equally versatile Roy Dunlap (piano/keys), Jeff Hanley (bass), and Pete Miles (drums/percussion).

Opener “Think About It All” might sound like a fairly straight-up Robert Cray-ish smooth-electric-blues-with-horns, but “Freezer Burn” quickly insinuates itself into your brain with more unique pleasures, a sort of Jack Johnson - Steve Winwood mind-meld.  (Though it’s hard not to think of Cray again when Wamble segues from a breezy island vibe to stinging your ear with sharp yet tasteful electric solos.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Find Her Way” tries on an acoustic Dave Matthews feel before melting into the country blues “It May Be A Dream,” featuring guest Carrie Rodriguez on violin and vocals.  Then “Sweet Return To Madness” delivers a rather Bonnie Raitt-ish upbeat blues about dying.  Wait, what?

As if to blow your mind for good, “Bitter Angels” follows with what I can only describe as Texas boogie gospel… except that the mid-song break has a different melody altogether, so maybe it’s progressive Texas boogie gospel.  “Oh Heaven” is a sort of gospel trance tune with beautiful jazzy drum work under a spacey circular piano line, a very atmospheric piece from the midst of which rises Wamble’s very Derek Trucks-like slide solo.

Wamble reaches way back for “I Needn’t Try,” delivering finger-snapping swing jazz, complete with a lilting solo on his favorite hollow-body acoustic, followed by a jazzy piano solo from Dunlap.  For “Home (There’s A Light On)” he returns to the slide and again emulates Trucks’ ability to make the instrument sing like a voice, before closing things out with “I Know,” a contemplative acoustic blues featuring just Wamble and his open body acoustic.  The sound is pure contemporary blues in the Keb’ Mo’ vein, with Wamble’s guitar sounding almost like a banjo in places thanks to the way he plucks it.

“Musical chameleon” is such a cliché… but clichés are always born from a kernel of truth.  Doug Wamble is an American roots music craftsman of the first order, equally adept at jazz, blues, and country, and unafraid to turn these tunes in imaginative, even progressive directions.  The thing about all the musical reference points I threw in above is that they are all just that – reference points.  Thanks to his remarkable range and imaginative blending of genres, Doug Wamble’s music is all his own, and tremendously satisfying at that. 

To put it another way, I might not care for turducken on my grill, but in my CD player, it’s pretty damned tasty.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2010 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of E1 Music, and is used for informational purposes only.