SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

B.B. Driftwood – Southward Bound – Opus 3

Roots/blues goes international with hi-res release.

Published on July 26, 2012

B.B. Driftwood – Southward Bound – Opus 3 SACD Stereo-only CD22112, 41:04 [8/21/2012] ****: 

(B.B. Driftwood – guitars, harmonica, percussion, lead vocals; Staffan Astner – guitars; Max Scultz – guitars; Gunnar M Lidstrom – guitars; Eric Bibb – 12 string acoustic guitar; John Lindstrom – pedal steel, lap steel; Sven Lindvall – bass; Peter Forss – bass, fiddle; Per Lindvall – drums, percussion; Sebastian Notinin – percussion; Paris Renita – vocals; Monica Tornkvist – vocals; Sylver Logan Sharp – vocals; Daryl Hunt – organ, vocals; Maria Winther – vocals; Oscar Skogholt – vocals; Cecelia Skogholt – vocals; Staffan Astner)

There are many cultural products connected to Sweden. Surprisingly, blues music is not one of them. Swedish audiophile label Opus 3 is releasing an SACD from B.B. Driftwood (a.k.a. Bengt Skogholt) titled Southward Bound. It turns out that Driftwood is a talented roots/blues singer and guitarist. His biography indicates that he has recorded with Olle Romeo and Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), and collaborated with various Caribbean and South American musicians.

Southward Bound features thirteen compositions, written, produced and engineered by Driftwood. The opening title track is a relaxed tempo acoustic blues number. Driftwood has an appealing throaty baritone voice and the soulful backup singers (Paris Renita, Sylver Logan Sharp) add textured lustre. “She Shines” adopts an island playfulness that has an organic quality. The arrangements suit the up tempo songs, lending a feel that is reminiscent of Keb’ Mo’. “Sweet Elizabeth” has a jaunty vibe and the inclusion of dobro and lap steel (Johan Lindstrom) is infectious.

A certain highlight is “A Way To Celebrate”. The arrangement has some gospel-tinged electric heat and it works. With help from Eric Bibb (12 string acoustic guitar), “Strange How Things Can Turn Around” a driving rhythm intermingles with the heated vocals and guitar hooks. However, an underlying gentle breeziness permeates these cuts. The lone instrumental, “Aliki Moonlight” is a back-porch jam…if that porch is located in the Bahamas! The combination of 12 string Cuban lute (Driftwood) and acoustic guitar (Staffan Astner) resonates with joyful elegance.

“Shady Tree” almost seems like classic American roots with the shading of dobro and fiddle (Peter Forss) accents. The tunes are unconventionally brief (total time: 41 minutes), but that is refreshing. The slow rockabilly groove of “Old Crazy Heart” is unexpected but very accessible. Driftwood even tries his hand at a soul ballad, “Love Must Prevail”

The sound of the SACD is excellent, as always with Opus 3. All of the stringed instruments (guitar, dobro, mandola, pedal steel) have a clear, warm tonality. The mixing of the vocals is stellar, especially the layering of the back-up chorus. Southward Bound is festive and listenable.

TrackList: Southward Bound; She Shines; Adrift; Sweet Elizabeth; A Way To Celebrate; Close To The Sun; Strange; Indian Summer; Love Must Prevail; Shady Tree; Old Crazy Heart; Aliki Moonlight

—Robbie Gerson

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