The Gaddabouts – Look Out Now! (2012)

Look Out Now! begins with a top-of-their-head improvisation, and this loping, light-filled groove says everything about what the Gaddabouts, and their new album, are all about: Serious fun.

“Meat On Your Bones” then gives way to a series of knee-slapping, ass-wagging, smile-popping concoctions filled with roots rock, country blues, cocktail jazz, rockabilly, front-porch folk — 19 in all, song after song after song, each one a delightful puzzle of smart lyrics and sharp licks.

That this low-key triumph arrives courtesy of a nascent supergroup — drummer Steve Gadd (Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan), singer Edie Brickell (The New Bohemians), bassist Pino Palladino (Paul Simon, the Who, John Meyer) and guitarist Andy Fairweather Low (Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman) — makes Look Out Now! all the more surprising. It’s that rare moment when everything works for one of these all-star amalgams, which usually boast far more promise than actual magic.

Instead, the Gaddabouts are more than the sum of their parts, maybe because Look Out Now! is not so much about fitting into some kind of expected genre, or meeting some expectation, but rather about a shared attitude — a point of view. This is music made for the right reason: Because it felt right, and it felt good.

From the swinging urbanity of “House on Fire” to the smoke-filled mystery of “Devil’s Story,” from the loose-limbed contentment of “Blessed Days” to the darkly jealous ruminations of “The Mountain,” Look Out Now! simply crackles with the energy of the unexpected.

I loved the way Bickell, after too long away, has added a blues woman’s sass — as on the delicious “Horse’s Mouth,” inspired by a false newspaper story written early on about the New Bohemians, or the pissed-off politico putdowns of “Corruption” — to go with a familiar rock-skipping romanticism (“How I Love You”) that has always filled her songs.

But the thrumming heart of this sprawling two-disc project (due September 25, 2012, from RacecarLotta Records) remains Gadd, who simply leads by example. His playing, always a wonder, sounds off-handedly enthusiastic but also propulsive and endlessly interesting — and, by extension, that’s perhaps the best description of all for the music they’ve ended up creating as a group.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.