On his 12th album, Bound by the Blues, Sonny Landreth pays homage to the emotions and sounds he first heard in his native Mississippi. Featuring Landreth’s soaring slide and nuanced singing, the album’s 10 songs reveal the durability and flexibility of the genre, while honoring his own creative vision.
Bound by the Blues is also a radical departure from the Louisiana slide-wizard’s previous two albums: 2012’s classical/jazz inspired Elemental Journey and 2008’s guest-studded From the Reach.
The Landreth-penned title track offers intense guitar solos while evoking the spirit of Landreth’s musical heroes, including Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. “Singing about the unifying power of the blues and paying tribute to the great artists who’ve helped shape the music in that song means a lot to me,” he says.
Photo by Robley Dupleix.
In the instrumental “Firebird Blues,” Landreth pays his respects to the late slide-slinger Johnny Winter—an important influence and friend. “The news of Johnny’s death came just as we were about to make this album and it hit me really hard,” Landreth reflects. “I decided to record a slow instrumental as a tribute by keeping it raw and in the moment—like Johnny’s playing always was.” To that end, Landreth used his vintage Gibson Firebird, a model long associated with Winter. Drummer Brian Brignac played on cardboard boxes to give the track a funky, primitive feel, while bassist David Ranson plucked a ukulele bass.
Making a personal statement was at the forefront of Landreth’s mind while making this album. “Developing a style and an approach that is your own musically is not something to be taken for granted," he says. “I’m at a point in life where I want to make the most of every moment I can, and that changes your perspective, your priorities, and how you relate to everyone else. And at the end of the day, I think that’s the essence of what I wanted to express with Bound by the Blues.”
Look for our in-depth interview with Landreth in the August 2015 edition of Premier Guitar.