Tas Cru: Barreling through life with infectious zeal, and plenty of heart.

Tas Cru: Pragmatist

By David McGee

Tas Cru
Crustee Tees Records

Sandpaper-voiced and barreling through life with infectious zeal, Tas Cru returns for a fourth engagement on disc, proffering 11 new songs imbued with pragmatic wisdom concerning the nitty-gritty issues--like letting it come to you instead of forcing the issue, as he counsels in the medium-cool funk of the album opener, “Just Let It Happen,” a telling title if ever there was one, and one which Tas extends into matters romantic, underscoring his philosophy with laid-back soloing by the assembled multitude: Tas himself on guitar and harmonica, Chip Lamson on piano, Jeremy Walz on slide guitar and the solid rhythm section of drummer Andy Hearn and bassist Mike Lawrence. Likewise, if you are blessed with a good partner by your side, shout “hey-hey!” and make sure that person knows it, as Tas does in celebrating his woman’s many virtues in the high-steppin’ blues “Glad To Be Alive,” with Lawrence laying down a mean walking bass line, Lamson adding richness to the background on organ, and the band answering Tas’s “hey-hey-hey”s with spirited responses of their own, as Tas once again fashions a personable guitar solo that complements his celebratory vocal. And when our man wants to vent about blues phonies, he kicks off “The Real Deal” with the opening riff from the Staple Singers’ classic “I’ll Take You There”--speaking of the real deal--then proceeds to groove on, coolly laying down the law about what constitutes a state of the blues that is undeniably blue, with more common sense advice to simplify matters: “Here’s my advice, if you’re huntin’ for the real deal/don’t be fooled by the pedigree/it’s how the music makes you feel/if the blues got something to say to you/and the music move your soul/you’ve found yourself the real deal/don’t have to look around anymore…” Though it’s not a direct bit of advice, Tas’s remonstrations at a woman overly dependent on technology to point her in the right direction, expressed unabashedly in the deep, moaning southern soul groove of “GPS Mama,” puts the whole issue in a fresh, humanistic perspective.

Tas Cru, ‘Just Let It Happen,’ live, the opening track from Jus’ Deserts.

Thus some of the more incendiary treats on Jus’ Deserts, along with, it should be noted, items such as the driving country blues of “Kinda Mess,” with Tas augmenting his gritty vocal with some searing guitar and shimmering harmonica. Not least of all these is the Little Feat-inspired title track (it even throws in a quick reference to “Dixie Chicken”), with its southern flavor and grinding groove--and a nice atmospheric touch in Sue Grimm’s accordion--and Tas thoroughly enjoying the erotic possibilities afforded a lyricist courting a tasty gal, shall we say. But it’s the artist’s sensitive side surfacing on a couple of memorable occasions that takes this outing onto higher ground.

Tas is expert at playing the blues sage and playing up his gritty, grizzled and lascivious sides. But there is always something special about the heart he brings to his blues ballads. Two excellent ones make this album a keeper: “Time and Time,” with Lamson adding a humming, churchy organ to the solemn atmosphere, Tas digs mightily into a wrenching lament of a lonely lover, set in the dead of night, our man holding onto a dream of reconciliation. His moody acoustic guitar solo adds an extra layer of heartache to this dispatch from the far side of abject solitude. Closing the album, “The Lucky Ones” is a more hopeful treatise, with a bit of Clapton flavor about it. In a spare performance, his affecting, ragged vocal backed only by his softly strummed guitar, Tas observes the loneliness all around him and counts his blessings for having been given another shot at love. True to the advice he offered at the beginning of the journey, he’s ready to just let it happen. So should we all. So should we all.

Tas Cru’s Jus’ Deserts is available at www.amazon.com

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024