Album review: Batture Boys’ ‘Muddy Water’ overflows with conscience, consequence

The Batture Boys
The Batture Boys: Tommy Malone and Ray Ganucheau.

They do everything differently down in Louisiana. Especially when it comes to the richness and diversity in the music, and its players. Born in the Big Easy, Tommy Malone carries a lifetime of heroes and stimuli in his heart and soul. That’s obvious. But for all of it, his music always comes out in a rush of nothing but pure Tommy Malone.

The name of his main crew — the fantastic subdudes with a small s — in one way describes Malone’s approach. Shimmering melodies and street grit in a glorious roux of blues, country, gospel, soul, folk, jazz, rock and NOLA funk. All that, and believe it or not, acoustic based, and yes, somehow subdued. The six songs on “Muddy Water” roll by on the soulful Southern blues side of all that. The Batture Boys are Malone (vocals, guitar, and piano), erstwhile Continental Drifters leader Ray Ganucheau (vocals, guitar, bass, and keys), and Jimmy Paxson (drums and percussion). And as much as the music impresses, the overall sentiment really stands out. These songs are very much regionally-inspired, filled with conscience and consequence.

Besides being one hell of a clever songwriter, Tommy Malone also sings in a true soul music voice that can project anguish with all kinds of color. The jaunty groove in “Deep Water Horizon” belies Malone’s expressions about the infamous BP Oil spill. No malice, but points are made. “Cleanup plan was only a scam; they washed their hands, but not the land.” Some things, it seems, will never change. Good thing he can sing about it with such amazing soul.

A lightened-up John Lee Hooker blues groove powers “The Mighty Flood,” Malone’s keen and dashing means of chronicling the ineptitudes in the aftermath of Katrina. The word batture means a strip of land running between the Mississippi River and a levee. It’s easy to imagine laying on one, sunbaked, pondering the river while the spiritual “Muddy Water” passes by. But even better than that is “Send the Bones Back Home,” their tribute to Malone’s childhood friend and original subdudes bassist, the late Johnny Ray Allen. On the one hand melancholy, and on the other hopeful; the love for another incredibly, beautifully expressed.

– Tom Clarke

  • Batture Boys
    ‘Muddy Water’
    Release:
    April 15, 2016
    TheBattureBoys.com

 

ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 25 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, Los Lobos, and the Allman Brothers Band and its ever-growing family tree. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Kudzoo, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen have raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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