Monday, September 18, 2023

Dave Rudolf: “Run From The Devil” (2023) CD Review

Dave Rudolf is a musician and songwriter who likes to explore various musical realms, never seeming to want to stand still, and right at home in whatever musical space he finds himself on any given album. He has released more than forty albums, most of them containing original material. On his newest release, Run From The Devil, he gets into the blues, with elements of soul and funk. This album features mostly original material, written by Dave Rudolf. In addition to lead vocals, he plays both acoustic and electric guitar on these tracks. Joining him are Felton Offard on guitar, Jack Whittle on guitar, Jim Widlowski on drums and percussion, Thomas Linsk on keyboards, John Chorney on keyboards and organ, Wally Hustin on bass, Harry Garner on harmonica, Steve Hesiak on saxophone, Tim Bales on trumpet and trombone, and both Marsha Lynne Smith and Lauren Dukes on backing vocals.

Dave Rudolf opens the album with its title track, “Run From The Devil,” which features a seriously good groove from the start, and has a very cool vibe. It tells the tale of Bonnie and Clyde, and has a great sense of movement. I love the way the horns support Dave’s vocal performance. This track also features some nice work on keys. That’s followed by “All That I Have,” a smooth blues song of love and longing. I like the pace here, the way Dave Rudolf doesn’t rush anything, but lives within the world of the song, almost like he can’t escape it. “All that I have is yours, but it wasn’t enough/I could be strong for you, I can be tough/I would give anything to earn your heart/But all my efforts failed, it was doomed from the start.” It is interesting how his vocal performance becomes more passionate as the song progresses. This one features some good work from the backing vocalists, as well as an excellent electric guitar lead. Then in “There’s A Reckoning Coming,” Dave Rudolf sings, “And those who think they have all the power/Think they’re safe high upon their thrones/I can see that there’s a reckoning coming/I can feel it deep inside my bones.” Sometimes it feels that way, but other times my cynical self believes they’ll never have to face any consequences. We are living in uncertain times. “What Tomorrow Brings” has some folk elements and a gentle vibe, and features some nice stuff on keys.

“Only Love” has a totally enjoyable groove, and again features some wonderful work on keys. Check out these lines: “Only love can make you go insane/Only love can bring you both joy and pain/You might think you found the girl of your dreams/But when she tortures you, she’ll make you scream/Only love can make you go insane.” And I love those backing vocals echoing “Go insane,” making it sound so good. Ah yes, may we all suffer from that sort of insanity. That horn in the second half is totally delicious. This track a lot of fun, one of the many highlights of this disc. Then “Island Way” has a bit of a reggae thing happening, mixed with the blues. It’s a song that urges us to “relax and play,” yet interestingly maintains something serious in its sound, in the vocal delivery, that keeps us a bit on edge. I love that guitar work in the middle. Excellent stuff.

For “Sweet Old Memories,” Dave Rudolf does not provide the lead vocals. Instead, Marsha Lynn Smith sings lead on this track. There is a classic vibe to this song. “It brings back memories,” Marsha Lynn Smith sings, and indeed this song might do that very thing for you. It might actually take you back to the mid-1960s. The lyrics mention The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, and The Angels. There is a sweet innocence to this one, and the track has a catchy element too. That’s followed by “Them Changes,” the only song on the album not written by Dave Rudolf. It was written by George “Buddy” Miles. Dave Rudolf does a good job with it, getting totally into it, getting funky. “That River Keeps On Rolling” is another of the disc’s highlights. I love those soulful backing vocals at the beginning, the kind of work that seems able to carry us all straight to heaven. I also appreciate that Dave Rudolf takes a little time establishing this song’s vibe before his vocals come in. There is some great guitar work in that opening section too. And Dave delivers a passionate, beautiful vocal performance. “There are times when our trials seem too much to bear/When the troubles all around us make this world seem so unfair/You will need a hand to help you when the waters get too high/Because that river keeps on rolling, it keeps on rolling by.” Then “Smoldering Ruin” features some really good work on harmonica, part of the fire of this track.

“All Alone With My Heart” is a song of missing that special person, recalling all the good things and even the not-so-good things, as he admits, “Even all your old habits that annoyed me to no end/How I long to see them again.” Sometimes we see things differently when that person is gone. And of course a song of futile desire and longing must feature some good work on saxophone, and this one certainly does. That’s followed by “Little Blue Riding Hood.” The lines that totally do it for me in this one are: “All the critters here are leaving the woods/They’re scared to run into Little Blue Riding Hood.” Very cool. And the line “She’s depressing the squirrels” makes me smile each time I listen to this song. Then Dave Rudolf gives us a song titled “Time For Some Changes,” which has a delicious groove. I think we can all agree it’s time for some changes. There are many things that need to be changed, in our personal lives and in the larger world outside of us. I can’t be the only one to find these lines relevant: “Watching others heading toward success/While my life is a cluttered mess/It’s high time for some changes/My world needs rearranging.” And these: “Given breaks, I might have been something/But as it is, I have got next to nothing.” Yup. This is another of the disc’s highlights.

“A River Of Love” is a sweet number featuring some good work on saxophone and lovely backing vocals. Then Dave Rudolf gets funky and loose on “Stank Eye,” a playful number. “Knowing me, I am sure that I was to blame,” he sings here, and the backing vocalists agree, “I am sure you are to blame.” I also really dig the drum work on this track. The album ends with “Undercover Lover,” which features some good, mean harmonica work, matching the mood of his vocal delivery from that first line, “I’m the secret that she’s trying to hide.” And the guitar is an accomplice.

CD Track List

  1. Run From The Devil
  2. All That I Have
  3. There’s A Reckoning Coming
  4. What Tomorrow Brings
  5. Only Love
  6. Island Way
  7. Sweet Old Memories
  8. Them Changes
  9. That River Keeps On Rolling
  10. Smoldering Ruin
  11. All Alone With My Heart
  12. Little Blue Riding Hood
  13. Time For Some Changes
  14. A River Of Love
  15. Stank Eye
  16. Undercover Lover

Run From The Devil was released on August 28, 2023 on Moneytree Records.

No comments:

Post a Comment