Deep Cuts is the 21st album of Tony Joe White’s forty year career. Why this man has not had more commercial success is beyond me as his releases have been consistently excellent.
Tony Joe White is best known for his 1969 hit “Polk Salad Annie.” Elvis Presley covered this song but it pales next to White’s Louisiana swamp version.
It is difficult to classify White’s music. Sometimes he is funky country and other times falls back into the blues. Whatever the designation, Tony Joe White has remained true to his Louisiana bayou roots.
The first song from Deep Cuts, “Set The Hook,” has drums and a wonderful fuzz type guitar as its foundation. White’s subdued and guttural vocals show that after all these years he has not ventured to far from his musical roots.
“As The Crow Fries” is Cajun soul at its best. The song has an almost hypnotic beat with understated vocals with which White bears his innermost feelings. There is some excellent harmonica playing on the breaks. When Tony Joe White sings “I miss your sweet caress” you believe him.
“Willie Mae Jones” is an old song about relationships but White takes the song in a new direction. There is an ominous feel that places the songs story in another time and place. It is a place that few people have visited.
Tony Joe White is also a consummate performer after all these years. He knows how to create an album. Just when you need something lighter, along comes “Run With The Bulls.” It is an instrumental with almost a Spanish guitar feel. Sometimes I wish White would just cut loose on his guitar as his playing is consistently superb.
“High Sheriff Of Calhoun Parrish” is a virtual novel in just over six minutes. Tony Joe White tells many stories with his music which tend to center around life’s realities. The lyric here have a blues feel but the sound goes in a different direction and creates a good counterpoint.
“Homemade Ice Cream” is an instrumental that features some creative harmonica-guitar interplay. It just flows past the senses. It lets the listener relax but not too long.
The Music of Deep Cuts quickly flies by and is gone. What is left behind is an album of stories set to some primitive Louisiana rhythms. Tony Joe White has returned to the swamps.