Too Slim and the Taildraggers – Brace Yourself | Album Review

Too Slim and the Taildraggers – Brace Yourself

VizzTone Label Group VT-UW3

12 songs – 72 minutes

An in-your-face blues-rocker who’s split his time between Tacoma, Wash., and Nashville in recent years, Tim “Too Slim” Langford and his well-traveled trio, the Taildraggers, take no prisoners with their latest CD, an effort that simply blazes from the jump.

Fronting an act that formed in the Evergreen State in 1986 and has been hitting the blues Top 10 charts consistently since the mid-2000s, Too Slim is at the mic and manhandles the six-string throughout this hour-plus set, inspired by a wide range of forebears, including from Lightnin’ Hopkins, Freddie King, Duane Allman, Robin Trower and more.

Honored as a hall of famer and lifetime achievement winner by three different organizations in the Pacific Northwest, he and the Taildraggers have a trophy case packed with more than 40 national and regional awards – including album-of-the-year honors from Blues Blast in 2016 for Blood Moon — and their exploits have been displayed on two MTV shows, The Real World and Road Rules.

Backed by his longtime, powerhouse rhythm section — bassist Zach Kasik and percussionist Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes, both of whom provide backing vocals, Too Slim recorded this disc in front of an exuberant audience at Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Wash. It’s a 12-tune effort that incorporates multiple influences in an all-original set that mixes blues, classic rock and Americana.

Built atop a steadily repeating guitar hook, “Mississippi Moon” opens the action and finds Too Slim awakening from a dream in a cold sweat after images of hellhounds and alligators streaming in his head as his life passes before his eyes. Using a formula that works successfully throughout the album, it flows effortlessly into “Fortune Teller,” a cautionary rocker that continues the message that the singer needs to change his life…today…before “Cowboy Boot,” a seven-minute workout in which the footwear serves as a cashbox that runs dry after a life lived with no regrets.

Up next, “Devil in a Doublewide” powers from the open but eases on the throttle as Too Slim describes a lady with “green teeth and two black eyes” who resides in the title trailer before the initially unhurried “Givers and Takers” quietly suggests that the former is getting harder to find in an ocean of the later before gradually picking up intensity throughout. A plea for clarity follows in the medium-paced rocker “Free Your Mind” before the propulsive “When Whiskey Was My Friend” serves up an original that would fit comfortably in a set by ZZ Top.

Too Slim adopts a Chuck Berry-style attack for the blazing “Letter” next then shifts to ‘60s rock for “My Body” and the Jimi Hendrix-esque “Blood Moon” and “Twisted Rails” before the rapid-fire “Good Guys” brings the action to a close.

If you’re a mainstream blues lover, you’d better Brace Yourself for this one because it’s a rocky ride. But it’s one that blues-rock fans will adore.

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