Sonny Landreth – Outward Bound (1992)

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Guitar sideman projects can fall prey to several breeds of debut carnivores — virtuosity to the point of pedantry, a mysterious lack of lyrical depth, that unexplainable one-off looseness.

Lafayette’s brilliant slideman Sonny Landreth played off all those pratfalls by delivering this terrific CD. “Outward Bound” sounds like something that needed to be made.

Lyrically, Landreth doesn’t stray far, but still hits home with lines about the Pontchartrain, cheres, parishes, bayous and the Napoleonic Code. He’s well-known around those parts, and often returns for local shows — including showcases in his hometown’s signature cultural event, Festival International.

More striking is a sturdy three-man core band (former boss John Haitt sits in on two songs, including the galloping “Common-Law Love”). That frees Landreth up to do the fancy fretwork on electric and acoustic bottleneck, lead, rhythm AND dobro.

A high point is “Yokamona,” the instrumental at the center of this record. It has all the acuity of Haitt’s contemporary Little Village project — except Landreth never lets his behind hit a stool. It’s fun, yet doesn’t lazily lose focus.

In that way, “Outward Bound” stays away from becoming the perhaps-expected slide-guitar showcase. For example, Steve Conn — who played Hammond B-3, piano and accordian — is allowed to make subtle, but important contributions.

That restraint highlights Landreth’s lanky, clear-eyed playing all the more.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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