Son Seals
Lettiní Go
Telarc CD-83501

Recovered from the 1997 domestic assault that nearly ended his career and the 1999 amputation of his left leg due to diabetes, Son Seals is back with his first studio album in several years. Far from sounding feeble or ill, the Arkansas-born guitarist, singer and songwriter burns through this 14-song collection with vigor and flair.

Studio legends Al Kooper and Jimmy Vivino lead a tight, versatile ensemble that conjures a rich sonic atmosphere and solo with taste. They aide Seals in stylishly leaping from brassy soul ("Let It Go," "Hair on a Frog") and driving funk ("I Got Some of My Money," "Funky Bitch") to revival meeting gospel ("Rockiní and Rolliní Tonight"), Chuck Berry-inspired rockíníroll ("Osceola Rock"), and uptown Chicago blues ("Bad Blood," "Jelly Jelly").

When a man is shot in the jaw by his wife, as Seals was, one would naturally expect him or part-time collaborator and mystery author Andrew Vachss to write a song about it. That doesnít exactly happen ó the tunes are more about general romantic malaise than any specific incident, and he doesnít give special liner-note thanks to his lawyer for nothing. However, respective despair and defiance can be sensed in the margins of Sealsí contemporary-flavored ballads ("Love Had a Breakdown," "Dear Son") and his funk and jazz-tinged blues ("Docís Blues," "Iíve Got Some of My Money").

On this emotional soundtrack, the Chicago-based Seals seems content to sing robustly and let his guitar squeal with cathartic high-note relief like a hungry caged force finally allowed to depressurize. Rhythm, rumination, and resurrection ó thatís what Lettiní Go is all about, and itís well worth hearing.

óKen Burke

©2000 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA