The More You Listen, The More You Hear
The Terry Quiett Band Makes Its Move
By David McGeeJUST MY LUCK
Terry Quiett Band
Lucky Bag Records
In the spirit of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, but emanating from the Kansas plains instead of Austin, guitarist Terry Quiett and his solid rhythm section of bassist Aaron Underwood and drummer Rodney Baker (with a little help from keyboardists Rick Steff and Beau Jarvis on a six of the baker’s dozen tracks here) serve notice on this, their third studio release (two live albums are available as well, and Quiett as a solo singer-songwriter has three albums in release, including a duet album with Guinn Walker), of being ready to step into the front rank of contemporary blues bands. Produced by Grammy winning Jim Gaines (who worked with SRV, coincidentally), Just My Luck presents an imposing portrait of Quiett as an inspired guitarist, a skilled songwriter and a vocalist of impressive depth (the more you listen, the more you hear).
Terry Quiett: He’ll play the blues for you, and he’ll knock you out doing so, but when he dives into a soul ballad, lord have mercy.
Quiett and his mates deftly maneuver through hard charging electric blues, southern rock-fueled burners, some playful funk-centric delights and what the older generation might recognize as heavy rock from a Cream-Zep axis. As a vocalist, Quiett will remind listeners of a cross between SRV and Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant, which is not a bad way to go for influences if you’re singing this kind of music. Thus Quiett boasts less a versatile vocal instrument than a powerfully expressive one—no howler he but rather a singer given to thoughtful, personal phrasing and controlled bursts of aggrieved outpourings. His song “Signs of Decline” is an occasion that brings the best of the band and Quiett’s artistry into sharp focus. Concerning a failed relationship that the singer couldn’t sense collapsing until it was too late, the narrative alternates between somber, controlled verses delivered with palpable regret, and powerful, thundering choruses in which Quiett rises to his upper register to wail, “I’ve been blind! Bli-i-ind! Blind/to the signs of decline/There’s no use now denying/Our love is dying.” The rhythm section stays firm and steady behind him as Quiett then fashions a short, sharp, pungent solo that enhances the singer’s sense of abject failure. “Fool’s Gold,” another account of a dysfunctional romance, has an anthemic quality in the big, robust sound of Quiett’s Strat riffing, the soaring, harmonized chorus and the searing upper neck solos Quiett crafts throughout in between telling his tale of “sifting lies I’ve been told/all my creek’s have run dry/panning fool’s gold.” Later in the song Quiett appeals to his paramour that they “make a fresh start,” but no sooner has he proposed this resurrection than does his emotional vocal and piercing guitar betray the folly of his good intentions.
Terry Quiett recording ‘Judgment Day’ for the Jim Gaines-produced Just My Luck album. ‘…an occasion for the flowering of Quiett’s singer-songwriter roots.'
Even more interesting is Quiett’s “Judgment Day,” an occasion for the flowering of Quiett’s singer-songwriter roots. For this one, Quiett, accompanied only by the desolate sound of his own resonator guitar, heads to the Mississippi Delta country for a stark, breathlessly told tale of a poisonous love triangle doomed to end tragically (“tell the truth/if he comes back/it’ll be the end for you/matter of fact, call it like it is/if he comes back/it’ll be the end of this”). Vocally he’s deep into the song, his anger over the turn of events it chronicles seething slightly below the surface until he explodes in his resolve to end his dilemma, one way or another. This is a masterful performance, full of passion, bitterness and revenge, but beautifully controlled, both in the vocal and in the evocative but subdued resonator atmospherics—it makes you want to hear more of Quiett in this setting, he’s so convincing in this role. But you know, the blues has its share of love songs, too—things don’t always turn out bad, even for a bluesman—and Quiett closes out the album with “Close To You,” a fully realized, passionately rendered love song spiced with a southern soul flavor. Aided by Rick Steff’s churchy organ backdrop and his own lush guitar lines establishing a solemn, respectful tone for the proceedings, Quiett sails along on a lowdown, low-key, funky groove proclaiming his aim to be an honest, true man to his gal. “I want to know you/I want to show you/I want to grow ‘til the growing gets too deep to uproot/I want to be there/I want to re-pair/that bad and broken heart and elevate you/it’s true, it’s true, it’s true/I want to get close to you…” he sings with gritty, selfless conviction as the music gradually builds behind him before surging ahead triumphantly until, in the last half-minute or so, Quiett can’t seem to get his words of love out fast enough. Then, as the flurry of music and words subsides, the whole enterprise lands, soft and lovely, with an exhale at the close. Terry Quiett will play the blues for you, and he’ll knock you out doing so, but when he dives into a soul ballad, lord have mercy. Something about Just My Luck says the Terry Quiett Band is going to be heard from in a big way, sooner rather than later.