It’s hard to look away from such a subtle track as “One Of These Days,” which demands repetition to expose its deepest layers. The languidly subtle track isn’t going to hit you over the head with its rewards, but once you hear it you’ll know you want to hear more from this guy who channels the likes of Allen Toussaint and Dr. John so effortlessly, even if it means you have to work for those rewards. Matthew E. White’s Big Inner has already been championed by the music behemouth which is Pitchfork, so I was immediately predisposed to dislike the music as pretentious indie bullshit, but White’s charms instantly revealed themselves, making me thoroughly ready for more from this “formidable” debut. The album comes out August 21st on the newly joined labels Hometapes and Spacebomb, and features Spacebomb’s house band, choir, string, and horn sections which should make for a positively headphone-quality experience. There’s nothing like a little of “the sweetest thing the Lord has ever made” (his words, not mine!) to brighten up your listening day!
Year of the Album — #031
Hugh Laurie – “Let Them Talk” (2011, Warner Bros. Records)
From the opening notes of “St. James Infirmary,” it’s clear that Hugh Laurie is not fucking around with Let Them Talk, the British actor’s first foray into launching a music career. You might be prone to laugh, if it weren’t for Laurie’s impeccable chops as a bluesman. This is a serious attempt at bringing a great deal of New Orleans flair to the table, and Laurie’s even got Allen Toussaint around to provide spectacular horn arrangements. Give the album a chance and you’ll be converted. By the time Let Them Talk has played out in its full glory, you’ll have forgotten this is a blues album by an actor. It’ll be more “where’s this guy been all these years?”
The album is comprised of a series of classic blues songs, many of which feature Laurie performing alongside the likes of Tom Jones, Irma Thomas, and Dr. John. Produced by Joe Henry, the album plays out as a serious endeavor, and Laurie comes at these songs with real relish. On the title track he lets his voice and piano tell it all, and holding that song up to the light on its own merits it seems to completely sum up his motives. “Let them whisper because they know not what’s between you and I,” he sings. “I’m gonna keep on, I’m gonna keep on loving you ‘til the day that I die.” If that’s the case, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many who have heard Let Them Talk who will be disappointed if Hugh Laurie was to take more opportunities to let his musical side shine.