by Emery Columna –
It’s amazing the sh!t you get hip to just by sleeping on the floor at the Chelsea Hotel… Back in 1991 Kerry Brown and Glenn Fukunaga were touring with John Mooney and were staying at the Chelsea for the duration of the weekend where they were playing at a Rounder Records company party at Tramp’s.
I remember I took them to the Empire Diner right around the corner from the Chelsea for perfect bacon and the best French Toast in NYC. Then we went to 48th Street to check out all the world famous music shops. When you are a touring musician, there actually is a lot of down time before a gig, so we filled our day with adventure inside The Big Apple.
Anyway, back to the floor at the Chelsea:
I was too tired to take the train back to Newark that night after the gig, so the guys let me stay in their room. They both offered me space on their mattresses, but I said to them, “if the floor is good enough for Stevie Ray Vaughan at Mason Ruffner’s, then the floor is good enough for me at the Chelsea Hotel!”
When those two cats saw that I was not too proud to sleep on the floor, the next day Glenn hipped me to a little known musician who was getting big in Austin. It was a point of pride for Glenn to ask me if I’d ever heard of Little Doyle. I was like, who? Glenn tells me, “Oh man, he’s this ambidextrous guitar monster who can play a Strat upside down… and you’ll be hearing from him soon!” Kerry Brown told me that I was a true musician, I just needed to decide what instrument to pick up… That was when Kerry hipped me to Seal…
Low and behold about 6 months to a year later, The Arc Angels comes out and there’s Little Doyle, otherwise known as Doyle Bramhall the 2nd! You could say I’ve seen the story of Doyle Bramhall 2 for going on 25 years now.
RICH MAN is surely DB2’s best recorded output so far.
Kudos to Doyle for booking a recording date with my Godfather in the Music Business, James Gadson. Am I biased in this review? Hell yeah!!! It’s my site and I am going to speak the truth!!!
Your Momma Can’t Help You is a full on hit because James Gadson is on the drums. James has played drums on 300+ gold albums, so James and his drums make hits. If you want to know what a Rolex sounds like, listen to James Gadson’s high hat on this track!
Lord have mercy, DB2’s guitar on this track got some tasty, phat tone, brothers and sisters! Doyle’s vocal tone has become better with the passage of time. Some people lose their voices over time… Doyle’s has gotten better, aged like a 25 year-old scotch… top shelf sound.
My People has a groove that draws you into the story DB2 tells on this one. I love the East Indian thing going on in the intro and outro. Again, DB2 has achieved every guitarist’s goal: On electric guitar, Doyle owns his tone. Don’t nobody sound like Doyle, but Doyle.
The only slightly, mildly critical thing I can say about this entire album is that Norah Jones’ vocals on New Faith were suppressed a little bit. I tried listening to this with and without headphones and still came up with the same feeling. I would have brought the level up on Norah’s track to equal Doyle’s. but that’s just me. Most people wouldn’t notice such a thing in the midst of their multi-tasking lives.
I felt like I was watching a Superfly or Shaft type movie when I heard Keep You Dreamin’. I am dead serious when I say this song can sit nicely in the soundtrack of a Quentin Tarantino movie. Right on, my good brother! This one has a funky groove to it with it’s soulful 70’s vibration. Sonic deliciousness and tasty tones!
The title track, Rich Man and Cries of Ages have that cinematic vibe to it I am talking about it. (I am running out of words to convey to you how good this album is!)
I just love Harmony! It’s a great song to BE with the one you love. Dare I say a belly rubba?
Now The Samanas is a song in 3 movements, so you have to stick with it to the end. Visionary… this one feels like something The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix would do, if they were all in the same room today collaborating. This is one not to be missed, so do not hit the fast forward button!
Hear My Train a Comin’ is a great way to close out this album, giving Jimi Hendrix a respectful tip of the hat, and proving Doyle can always play hard blues.
You know how some guitarists paint in colors? If I were to relate this to Art, I would say RICH MAN is like a Van Gogh painting. Vivid and emotional colors.
So I say this with a point of pride: Nicely done, Doyle! Thank you for one of the best albums of 2016. It was worth the wait. I dig it.