Tedi Brunetti – Queen of Pittsburgh
9 songs, 37 minutes
Music that is led by a drummer has a unique sound. When the drums are the focal point, rhythm and the music that the drummer band leader lays out changes the role of the other instruments and creates a different physical experience for the listener. Local rock and roots first lady of drumming Tedi Brunetti’s new record Queen of Pittsburgh is a great example of a drum-centric fully realized personal artistic statement. A short 9 song blast of original material, Queen is a thoroughly modern sounding, clean statement of Contemporary Blues with an art house edge.
Tedi Brunetti is a veteran drummer. Coming up in the 80’s driving local bands that opened for The Clash and other national acts, Brunette has had a rich and varied career in music. Lead guitar husband of 44 years Jim Mason and co-producers Michael Henegan on bass and Dean Allen Sargent on guitar from the core band. A host of other local musicians adding horns, guitars and keys including Brunetti and Mason’s son James and 2 of Brunetti’s sisters on background vocals fill out the sound.
Bassists and drummers have very special relationships. It is this collaboration, communion, that makes or breaks music. The interplay between Brunetti and bassist Henegan is central to this music, at times surprising and always complimentary. The cool Latin tinged throb of “Evil Woman” and the strident thump of “Same Old Blues” are clinics in how to play straight classic grooves with finesse and originality.
What makes Queen of Pittsburgh transcend into an artistic statement is Brunetti’s ragged vocals and unique songwriting perspective. Brunetti has a deep classically cool delivery that makes a listener think of Frank Sinatra, Marianne Faithful or Rickie Lee Jones. Writing reflections of life, love, modern times and her beloved ‘Burg, Brunetti brings the kind of plain spoken lyrical voice to detail her Pennsylvania world that Lou Reed brought to the infinitely deep streets of New York. Highlights include album opener the slinky swing “Eat, Sleep, Repeat” about the joys and tribulations of daily life. The sexy “Seduce You” is a mature come-on from a wife to her husband. Brunetti’s voice so come-hither it’s hard to believe this is someone’s grandmother singing about her bustier and inviting her man to check out her tattoos.
Title track “Queen of Pittsburgh” is something special. Brunetti and Henegan lay down a tough medium tempo rock beat with lots of air and space for father and son guitarists to offer the hardest most distorted work on the record. What sets this apart is the successful homage to their city. Ever since “Sweet Home Chicago” city based songs, especially modern ones, often sound hackneyed or overly fawning. Here Brunetti offers a hard scrabble love letter that comes with a sneer and the finger if you don’t like it.
Tedi Brunetti is quoted in the promotional material for this release saying this album was a legacy recording. “I wanted our grandchildren to know grandma and grandpa were cool once.” Queen of Pittsburgh is very cool and certainly leaves a lasting mark. It’s a unique sound from a unique talent.