There’s a world of hot players out there picking up a slide these days, but nobody plays slide guitar like Sonny Landreth—hell, nobody plays a guitar period like Sonny Landreth—nobody! The release of his first live CD, Grant Street, captures well, the rawness of Landreth’s remarkable spider-like, bottleneck slide fretting technique, as well as his hot-pepper, Louisiana backwoods zydeco shading. However, this recording is not by any means a Saturday night stroll down Bourbon Street; Grant Street is a musical sidewinder missile fired directly from the soul of one of the South’s most superb proponents of the six-string supernatural.
Landreth deftly blends a truly distinctive blues guitar playing style, with his own unique, mystical, superstition-based Louisiana sleight of hand zydeco. Often, Landreth’s wizardry sounds as if he is coaxing several instruments out of his guitar at once. He then forces the resulting six-string gumbo through a virtual musical pressure cooker of a band called the Goners. On Grant Street, Landreth’s trio ignites a short fuse, propelling material from his previous eight albums into the stratosphere strapped to the back of his new-millennia, computer-driven Fender Stratocaster.
Grant Street, which is named for Landreth’s favorite hometown honky-tonk haunt, and also the site of the recording, combines fiery musicianship with extraordinary lyrics—smooth and glassy on the surface, but broodingly sinister underneath. Landreth’s voice, a polished blues and Cajun-tinged croon, ripples with conviction, weaving together his diverse material. An almost haunting ache in Landreth’s guitar’s harmonic tone implies dark secrets that his sly schoolboy smile keeps hidden. In simpler terms; there is one hell of a lot going on here before Landreth steps up to a microphone, and the only thing predictable about Grant Street is its unpredictability.
For Sonny Landreth fans, Grant Street represents the holy grail of live recordings. For those who are simply amazed by something new and different, played on a six-string guitar, this is it!