Brad Absher and the Superials – Tulsa Tea
8 songs – 30 minutes
Tulsa Tea is singer/guitarist Brad Absher’s eighth album and is a delightful gumbo of roots rock and Southern Soul music, all informed and influenced by a heavy dose of the blues. Produced by Chris Combs and recorded at Paradise Studio at Grand Lake in Tijuana, OK, Tulsa Tea has a warmth and soul that recalls some of the great albums previously recorded at the same studio in the 1970s by the likes of JJ Cale, Freddie King, Bob Seger and its original owner, Leon Russell.
Absher wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs and Combs captured some first-rate performances from Absher and his band, comprising Matt Martin on drums and percussion, Dylan Layton on bass, Jake Hemphill on guitar, EZ Mireles on keyboards, Danny Timms on Wurlitzer and Hammond Organ and Charlie Redd and Briana Wright on backing vocals. The No A/C Horns (Zak Elkins on baritone and bass sax, Andy McCormich on tenor sax and Matthew Leland on trombone) also feature.
The album opens with “Be The Love”, a stomping nod to late 60s soul, with its stabbing horns, uplifting lyrics, sweeping Hammond lines and an earworm of a chorus. It’s also reminiscent of mid-to-late-80s Fabulous Thunderbirds (à la “Stand Back” or “Wrap It Up”) and none the worse for that. The warm-hearted, optimistic lyrical slant continues in the loving “Neutral Ground” which features some gloriously melodic slide guitar as Absher good-naturedly pleads with his true love to work on loving compromise. By contrast, “Goodbye For Now” is a heart-breaking ode of love to Absher’s daughter, Madison, who died in 2016 aged just 24. Absher’s slide guitar weeps and cries in genuine anguish on one of the album’s highlights. The first verse of “As Hard As I Can” is a soul ballad with glorious Hammond organ, before segueing into a mid-paced stomper.
The heavy blues-rock of “Hard Times” picks up the pace further while concurrently addressing current day societal issues (as does the funky “Should Be Prayin’”). The sultry, jazz-inflected “So Tired” is the sole cover on the album, originally written by New Orleans’ The Iguanas. The closing track, “Turn It Up” returns to the soul theme, with superb guest vocals from Tulsa powerhouse Briana Wright.
Absher is a fine guitar player and an equally impressive singer, his muscular, rough-hewn voice fits the material perfectly, articulating passion and vulnerability in equal measure.
Tulsa Tea is a relatively short album, clocking in at only half an hour, but it’s also a highly enjoyable and rewarding release. If your tastes lean towards bluesy roots and Southern soul music, you will definitely want to check out this album.