- Artist: Black Dub
- Title: Black Dub
- Released: 2010
- Format: CD
- Genre: Rock/Soul/Dub-Reggae
- Beverage of Choice: Cabernario No.8 – Maipo Valley
At this point, if you’ve read a few of my posts, you may already be sick and tired of hearing about my devotion to Daniel Lanois’ particular genius and production style. If that’s true for you, quit reading, take a break and go listen to some K-Pop because this is all about the ‘Lanois magic’ again. Actually, not so much. He did form this group as a vehicle for some of his compositions and to get out on the road with a real band instead of as solo artist but, in Trixie Whitley, he found an ingenue and force of nature that makes this debut and, so far, solitary Black Dub album come to life.
I had the great fortune and pleasure of seeing the group at Anaheim House of Blues on their tour in 2011 (for a $10 entrance fee!!) and spent the night right up front, entranced at the way Trixie, at 20-something performed like a veteran, her voice soaring over the band, effortlessly dominating the venue. Lanois was his usual laid-back, laconic self on keyboards, a little guitar, harmonizing here and there and generally enjoying himself but letting the band lead the way and clearly reveling in helping a new star come into her own.
The music is not actually completely typical of Lanois, although he wrote all the songs but two (“Last Time” and “Ring the Alarm“). A mixed bag of reggae beats (“I Believe in You“), straight up rock with Lanois trademark production values (“Love Lives“), soulful ballads (“Surely“) and trip-hop/jazz (“Slow Baby“), the album can take a while to adjust to; hang in there because it’s really worthwhile. It took me a few spins to fall deeply in love with the sheer creativity and musicianship ,enjoying the satisfaction of deciphering someone else’s headspace and making it my own.
Back to Trixie; listening to her rich contralto vocals on showpiece songs “I Believe in You” and “Surely” will give you an inkling of just how powerful her delivery is in a live setting. Check out her discography if you get a chance, very different music to Black Dub but nonetheless interesting and diverse, sometimes sounding like Neneh Cherry, sometimes like PJ Harvey and most often just like her ownself (which is a good thing).
The instrumental tracks (“Slow Baby” and “Sirens“) are very typically Lanois’ style, the major difference between these recordings and his own being the excellent musicians with him – Daryl Johnson on bass and jazz session extraordinaire Brian Blade on drums. The interplay is subtle and extremely nuanced, delivering a balanced, involving and immersive musical experience. Listen to these tracks a couple of times, they are NOT filler!
The song the band wrote together, “Sing” is just sheer frivolity and a wonderful live sing-along opportunity. I remember it well from the show and how much fun the band was having together, supporting each other, goofing around and at the same time making every aspiring musician in the crowd jealous at how easy it seemed for them to make a joyful noise. As I’ve stated, you may need to hear this album a few times to truly appreciate the craftsmanship , energy and professionalism that makes it sound so easy to create something new and different. Maybe start with the song “Canaan“, the only Lanois-led vocal track , it’ll sound familiar and you probably won’t quite be able to put your finger on why. That’s his genius – you’ll be pulled in, surrounded and welcomed; relax and enjoy!