Tedeschi Trucks Band weaves four-part Iranian fairy tale

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No doubt a few fans of Tedeschi Trucks Band, privy to their plans for a multipart epic based on an Iranian fairy tale, were terrified the bluesy jam band was headed to the dreaded reefs of progressive rock. Turns out I Am the Moon (Swamp Family/Fantasy) makes fine party material, with Susan Tedeschi’s voice carrying that bold but husky Bonnie Raitt sound, while the horn section belts out Cajun/funk creations as lively as any of the band’s live sets.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll realize that Tedeschi and spouse Derek Trucks squeezed a lot from the 12th-century Persian poem “Layla and Majnun.” Vocalist Mike Mattison suggested the poem as a writing prompt while band members were in lockdown, with a resulting 140-minute, 24-song tale of love in a time of plague. Trucks’ love for free jazz is evident in tracks like Part 2’s “All the Love,” yet the group never strays too far from their roots.

The only minor flaw is the choice of lush packaging in lean times. A four-CD set could have been compressed into two, and the LP-based box set, $100 on release, now fetches $500 and more on Discogs. You can still buy four unitary CDs for less than $50, though, one of the better deals to find in 2023.

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Alicia Blue, Inner Child Work, 1 & 2 (Magnetic Moon) – Who knows why Blue, an L.A. transplant to Nashville, released one EP in summer and a second one in mid-January, but regardless of the format, Blue’s writing and delivery are stunning. “Don’t Tell Me to Smile” deserved to be the pop track of 2022, and the rest of her work is just as good. With production from Lincoln Parish of Cage the Elephant, and writing assistance from John Paul White, Blue’s move east is Nashville’s gain — in a big way.

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