Randall Bramblett has announced the release of a new studio album, Devil Music, due September 18 from New West Records. An acclaimed Southern artist—whose songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Bettye LaVette and Hot Tuna and who's served as a collaborator with Greg Allman, Steve Winwood and Levon Helm among others—Bramblett built the 11-song effort upon a foundation of R&B and Soul, but he also imparts the collection with rock and roll fervor and a willingness to improvise. Bramblett recruited a handful of A-list special guests to join him on the recording, including Derek Trucks, Mark Knopfler and Chuck Leavell. Lyrically, Devil Music was inspired by the biography, Moanin’ At Midnight: The Life and Times Of Howlin’ Wolf. In the book, Hubert Sumlin tells a story of Howlin’ Wolf crying all the way from Mississippi to Chicago. Wolf and his band had been on tour when they decided to make a stop at his boyhood home in White Station, Mississippi. Wolf wanted to give his mother money and show her who he'd become. She opened the door, saw who it was and slammed the door in his face. She told him she didn’t want his money and didn’t want anything to do with him because he played "Devil Music."
"When I wrote Devil Music about Howlin' Wolf's meeting with his estranged mother, I knew I had the feel and the heart of the record. Songs like 'Dead in the Water,' 'Whiskey Headed Woman' and 'Bottom of the Ocean' all sprang from the tug-of-war between blues and religion, salvation and damnation," says Bramblett. "The overdriven vocal sound we used helped bring home the pain and defiance we wanted on these songs. The way I'm singing is more intense. The songs have this fundamental power that I just needed to express."
In many songs, he says, "lost characters" abound. Some appear in the album opener and title track, while "Dead in the Water" was inspired by William S. Burroughs and his speed-freak wife ("scrubbin' the floor with a toothbrush/but she just can't get it clean"). The protagonist in "Angel Child" comically tries to lure a lover into the seedy web of his broken down life while the character in "Bottom of the Ocean" dreams of escape. These songs gain further impact from their construction and many are built around a single chord.
"Several of them are basically field songs where you're coming down on the one like you're chopping stuff, and you just stay there," continues Bramblett. "The rest of the interest comes out of the ambient sounds, the lyrics and the inspiration of the players. The effect is trancelike; it pulls you in."
"I’m pullin’ from a deep well on this album," Bramblett concludes. "It's my experience of black and white culture in the south, and how it feels to grow up here with all the religion and pain and conflict and joy—and then there's all that dancing…"
Devil Music is Randall Bramblett’s sixth recording for New West Records and the tenth of his career. He’ll support the release with tour dates throughout Fall and Winter, including Widespread Panic's annual festival, Panic En La Playa in Mexico.
Randall Bramblett Tour Dates
September 12 & 13 - Black Swamp Festival - Bowling Green, OH
September 17 – Hendershot’s Coffee - Athens, GA *
September 18 - Cox Capitol Theatre - Macon, GA
September 19 - Walker County Fair, Mountain Cove Farms - Chickamauga, GA
September 22- September Sounds - Anderson, SC (Solo)
September 25 - Sails Concert Series - Hickory, NC
September 26 - Southland Ballroom - Raleigh, NC
October 1 - Charleston Music Hall - Charleston, SC ^
October 2 - Isis Music Hall - Asheville, NC
October 3 - Double Door Inn - Charlotte, NC
October 10 - The Foundry - Athens, GA
October 17 - Wire & Wood Songwriter Festival - Alpharetta, GA
October 18 - The Rooster’s Wife - Aberdeen, NC
October 23 - Headliner’s - Louisville, KY
October 24 – The Old Feed Store - Cobden, IL
October 30 - The Loft - Columbus, GA
October 31 - Arnett’s Gulf Side Stables - Grayton Beach, FL
November 4 - Sweet P’s Songwriters in the Soul House - Knoxville, TN (solo)
November 27 - Terminal West - Atlanta, GA
December 11 - Steve’s Live Music - Sandy Springs, GA
December 26 - The Foundry - Athens, GA
January 30 - Red Clay Theater - Duluth, GA
February 2 - 6 - Panic en la Playa - Riviera Maya, Mexico
* Devil Music Listening Party
^ w/ Paul Thorn