Dylan Triplett – Who Is This?
VizzTone Label Group VT-NNF01
10 songs – 42 minutes
Once in a very rare while, a singer’s voice will stop you dead in the tracks. That’s the case with Dylan Triplett, a 21-year-old St. Louis-area native with an explosive, four-and-one-half octave range who’s been performing since age nine but finally makes his debut on this CD – a labor of love that was four years in the making.
Triplett grew up in a musical family headed by his father, sax player Art Pollard. His earliest influences came through the Jackson 5, Luther Vandross, James Brown, Ray Charles and Oliver Sain. And he now incorporates a healthy mix of blues in his act after being tutored by veteran vocalist/percussionist Charles “Skeet” Rodgers and younger torchbearers Alonzo Townsend – the son of piano and guitar great Henry – and Marquise Knox.
Once billed as “Little Dylan,” Triplett started singing professionally at age 15, provided backup for another rising star, R&B vocalist Carolyn Mason, before moving on to front his own band, which includes his dad and brother. Prior to relocating recently to Nashville, his pipes hypnotized audiences at such major events at the Blues at the Arch, the Big Muddy Blues Festival, the National Blues Museum and showcases at B.B.’s Blues & Soup.
A mix of blues and soul with a little jazz to boot, this CD was produced by Taj Mahal/Phantom Blues Band bassist Larry Fulcher and co-produced by Dr. Wayne Goins, the director of jazz studies at Kansas State University and a guitarist who worked with Kenny Burrell, Jimmy McGriff, Clark Terry and other top talents. It was recorded at Blue Lotus Studios in St. Louis, Texas Southern University Recording Studio in Houston and Ultratone Studio in Studio City, Calif., where it was mixed by Fulcher’s longtime bandmate, guitarist Johnny Lee Schell.
All three of the principals above contribute their talents along with two giants who are no longer with us: organist Mike Finnigan and percussionist Montez Coleman. The all-star lineup also includes Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Sean MacDonald, Mitch Montaldo, Paul Niehaus and Tru Burn on guitars, Ryan Marquez on keys, Kyle Turner, Pollard and Joe Sublett on saxes with Lenny Castro on percussion and Kudisan Kai and Maxayn Lewis on backing vocals.
The disc opens with “Barnyard Blues,” a Fulcher/Schell/Finnigan original that incorporates lyrics penned by 19th Century poet and novelist Paul Laurence Dunbar. A medium-paced shuffle, it soars from the jump aided by a Kingfish solo before Dylan explodes vocally as he describes a “country cousin who never went to no college/But he ain’t no fool/See…he dropped down with some knowledge,” noting: “He learned more in the barnyard than he ever learned in the street.”
Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (and What Is He to You?)” serves as the title track, shows that Triplett’s no copycat and hints at his range before the topical ballad “Brand New Day…Same Old Blues” – co-written by Fulcher and Annika Chambers-DesLauriers – recounts awakening in the morning, turning on the TV and seeing the same old blues. It features ever-increasing vocal dynamics as it progresses. “Dance of Love” powers out of the gate to brighten the mood. It’s the first of three consecutive tunes penned by either by Dylan or in concert with his bassist. Soul-blues at its best, it gives way to “Junkyard Dog,” which swings from the gate as it describes an irresistible girlfriend whose meanness increases as the sun goes down, and “I’ll Be There Waiting,” a slow blues that’ll have you grinding on the dance floor.
Covers of Jimmy McCracklin’s “She Felt too Good,” Marvin Gaye’s “That’s the Way Love Is,” Lonnie Brooks’ “Feels Good Doin’ Bad” and Miles Davis’ “All Blues” – all of which feature dynamic vocal interpretations and outstanding musicianship — bring the album to a close…and leave you begging for more.
Dylan Triplett has a voice for the ages, and this one ROCKS! Be the first kid on your block to turn others onto him. They’ll be glad you did!