|Cincinnati based guitarist Dudley Taft shows his softer side on his seventh album, “Simple Life,” revealing the depth of his influences from classic pop to blues to progressive rock. But, make no mistake, he retains that jagged edge guitar slinger profile that has brought him international acclaim. The collection of eleven original tracks of driving rock anthems & soaring ballads and an inspired rendition of a blues classic were recorded at the home studio he bought from Peter Frampton, saving it from demolition six years ago. The sessions feature members of Taft’s touring band and special guest, Walfredo Reyes Jr., who lays down drums and percussion on seven tracks.
The album opens with a thundering jungle drum beat from Chris Ellison, who runs his own school “Now Drum” in Cincinnati, on an anthem about the joy in finding true love ‘Give Me A Song.’ Taft then lays out his full rock ‘n’ roll manifesto and pursuit of the finer things on the riff-based title track ‘Simple Life.’ The tune glides along smoothly until Taft tosses in a 2112 inspired bridge and one of his hot guitar solos. He further declares the depths of his devotion on the hard-swinging blues ‘I Can’t Live Without You’ that features soaring duel lead guitar. The gritty rocker, ‘In Your Way,’ is a cutting rebuke of a troublesome bully, and the lesson in self-reliance ‘Don’t Let Them Get Away,’ uses a mixture of sweet and swaggering grooves to prove its point. The years Taft spent on the Seattle scene are easily heard on the loping grunge ballad ‘Death By Bliss,’ and the heavy funk of ‘Bombs Away,’ has some indelible Hendrix influences.
Taft previously released his version of the Warren Hayes composition ‘If Heartaches Were Nickels’ on his 2016 album “Live In Europe,” and is joined once again by acclaimed bass man and “All Blues” radio host John Kessler on the more refined studio version, that finds him holding back the tempo and digging deeper into the melodic and emotional strains of the deep slow blues.
Touches of Lennon and McCartney and pure Gospel fire can be felt on the inspirational ‘Never Fade.’ The big rock sound of ‘Pouring Down’ was surely gleaned from his years writing and touring with the upstart bands Sweet Water and Second Coming, and his ode to the love of his life, ‘Shine,’ is a mixture of hot licks and soulful harmony. Taft declares he has “Found My Queen,” on ‘Back To You,’ another riff rocker from his hip pocket that closes out the album he dedicates to his wife Michelle, who graces the album art alongside her guitar-slinging man.
“Simple Life” is a strong statement of conviction from a road-tested singer songwriter, who has earned the right to share his truth on his own terms.
Rick J Bowen
Dudley Taft grew up in the American Midwest, where he learned the values of friendship, roots, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and a good ear of corn. With a background that includes Berklee College of Music as well as years touring with rock bands, Sweet Water and Second Coming, Dudley is a thinking man’s blues rocker. There’s plenty of swagger here, but also the sensitivity of a thoughtful songwriter. In his music you’ll hear delta roots mingling with Seattle grunge, a southern twang with a high-octane crunch. Dudley was nominated “Best Guitarist” by the European Blues Awards in 2017.
Dudley’s music career began in high school when he founded the band Space Antelope with friend Trey Anastasio (of Phish). In the 1990’s he joined the Seattle band, Sweet Water, touring the states with Monster Magnet, Candlebox and Alice in Chains. After recording two albums for Atlantic, he left the band to join Second Coming. More touring followed with an album on Capitol Records and a taste of success thanks to the single ‘Vintage Eyes’ which made it to #10 on the Rock Radio charts. In 2006, Dudley started playing blues rock in Seattle, and released five studio albums (“Left For Dead” in 2010, “Deep Deep Blue” in 2012, “Screaming In The Wind” in 2014, “Skin And Bones” in 2015 & “Summer Rain” in 2017) and one live album, “Live In Europe” in 2016. Reese Wynans of Stevie Ray Vaughan fame has played on the last three studio records.
Dudley has had four #1 songs on the Hit Tracks Top 100 charts, and his music can be heard on SiriusXM Bluesville, Pandora, Spotify, and many other streaming services. Dudley’s music has been featured in movies and on television, most notably “The Sixth Sense,” “That Metal Show” and “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.” Dudley now makes his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.