You have got to love a guy who now names his band after one of the coolest guitars ever made--the Gretsch White Falcon. But I had developed an interest in the Canadian guitar-slinger long before this release. I first noticed Doucet in 2004 when he appeared as one of Sarah McLachlan's guitarists in a concert video that I purchased (yes, men do buy Sarah McLachlan videos). He exhibited an affinity for the instrument, and a rare charisma that made him one to watch. I missed his period of fronting the trio Veal, but finally he caught my attention again big-time with this, his fourth "solo" record.
Blood's Too Rich opens with Doucet contemplatively picking a character-laden acoustic guitar, then singing the first verse of "Long Haul Driver" solo. When it hits the last chords of the verse, a searing electric guitar announces that this is going to be a twang-fest to end all twang-fests. This rollicking tune works the obvious metaphor of the trucker as touring musician, and vice-versa, in a cliché-free, confident way. Add a guitar solo that combines Duane Eddy, Chuck Berry, and Les Paul, and you have the arrival of a solo-artist/band that just may just be the savior of the too often anemic genre that is alt-country.
Doucet's guitar chops and distinctive tone rival Buddy Miller's, and if his singing isn't as soulful (whose is?), it is forceful in its own way. Backed by his wife Melissa McClelland on guitar and vocals, and Rich Levesque on bass and vocal (along with assorted others), Doucet has carved out a sound that melds country, blues, rock, Neil Young, the Beatles, and bluegrass into a patchwork quilt that will warm your musical soul.
The Neil Young influence is obvious, from Doucet's choice of guitar to his go-for-broke attitude playing it (far surpassing Young in the chops department). But Doucet often extends the risk taking to his lyrics, pushing the envelope of what works to the breaking point, pulling it off more often than not by virtue of sheer musicianship, much like another Canadian--Joni Mitchell.
I saw the band perform in an intimate New York venue and was blown away by all the attributes that should be part of every musical performance, but so rarely are: great instrumental tone, taste, and prowess, flawless harmony singing, perfect volume for the venue, and an instinctive sense of dynamics. Did I mention they rocked the house? All these attributes are available on Blood's Too Rich except "perfect volume for the venue." That's your job. Personally, I recommend that you turn up Doucet's psycho-billy version of "The Lovecats" by the Cure as loud as you can stand it. • Michael Ross
see Puremusic live video of Luke here (then scroll down)