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Rock - Released August 14, 2020 | Surfdog Records

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Rock - Released August 14, 2020 | Surfdog Records

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Blues - Released October 5, 2018 | Provogue

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Blues - Released October 5, 2018 | Provogue Records

It took Doyle Bramhall II 15 years to deliver Rich Man, the sequel to 2001's Welcome, but only two to follow that 2016 record with Shades. Appropriately, Shades feels looser than its predecessor and more direct, too. Where Rich Man was dotted with epics, Bramhall keeps things generally concise on Shades, and he also firmly grounds the album in soul. The first sounds on Shades may recall the thick, heavy blues grooves of the Black Keys but by the time Bramhall gets to the chorus of "Love and Pain," he spins the song into classic '60s R&B. He's too restless a musician to stay there -- with the Greyhounds, he kicks up some noise on "Live Forever," the Tedeschi Trucks Band pulls out some deep blues on a cover of Bob Dylan's "Going Going Gone," and he indulges in psychedelia on "Parvanah" -- but he keeps circling back to sounds steeped in Southern soul. It results in a more cohesive album than its predecessor, but it's the lack of fussiness that makes Shades a better record: now that he's just knocking out songs and records, his music feels bracing and immediate. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released August 9, 2018 | Provogue

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Rock - Released September 30, 2016 | Concord Records

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Rock - Released September 30, 2016 | Concord Records

Doyle Bramhall II put his solo recording career into hibernation following the 2001 release of Welcome, choosing to concentrate on his thriving career as a sideman and producer. It was hard to blame him for deciding upon this route, not when Eric Clapton picked him as a lieutenant guitarist and Elton John, Sheryl Crow, and Derek Trucks all regularly came calling. Bramhall channels all this experience into Rich Man, his first album in 17 years and also his best. The key to the success of Rich Man is how he loads up the album with thick, funky rhythms, pushing soul over blues over the course of its 13 tracks. Which isn't to say that he either downplays his guitar prowess or opts out of adventure: he dabbles in Middle Eastern flair on "Saharan Crossing," while the nearly ten-minute "The Samanas" plays like a miniature rock opera. By closing the album with a slow, churning rendition of "Hear My Train a Comin'," he consciously reconnects with blues-rock, but early in the record he's riding mellower Southern soul grooves and concentrating on tight songwriting. And that's the trick of the album: it starts expansive and keeps expanding, taking in all the sounds and styles he's played over the last 17 years. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 18, 2007 | Yep Roc Records

Considering that it took Texas drummer and singer/songwriter Doyle Bramhall's 12 years to issue his debut album, 1994's Bird Nest on the Ground and that nine years passed before his sophomore effort, Fitchburg Street, dropped, his third set, arriving only four years after its predecessor, is quick work. Bramhall is a bit of a living legend in Texas music circles. He's worked with everyone from Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to Marcia Ball and Mason Ruffner to Jennifer Warnes -- and a whole lot of others. Is It News was co produced by songwriting guitar slinger C.C. Adcock and Bramhall and recorded in five locations from Minnesota to Los Angeles to Austin to New Orleans. Bramhall wrote or co-wrote everything on the set, including "Chateu Strut" with Stevie Ray. The cast of players here is also impressive. It includes everyone from his co-producer and Jimmie Vaughan to his son Doyle II to Denny Freeman, Jason Burns, Billy Etheridge, Jimmy Mac, and Matt Perrine, just to name a few. That doesn't make it a cluttered effort, however, and Is It News feels all of a piece. The music, rooted in blues and Texas-style R&B, comes roaring out of the gate, but it's not simply some boogie bar-band effort. By the standards of his other records, this is downright slick and better for it. There is real variety in the tunes here. "Lost in the Congo" is Bo Diddley by way of New Orleans funk and swamp rock with a smokin' little guitar solo by Mato Nanji and slide work by Mike Keller. But Freeman and Adcock also play guitar here, and it's one dense, spooky rock number. The title track has a little more Texas swagger in its backside, a bluesy broken love song with great production and backing vocals. The mix is really warm and inviting and Bramhall's singing is at its very best. The swamp sound returns but the vibe is different, Texas soul. Speaking of soul, "I'll Taker You Away," with its big reverb, warm wall of guitars, and Bramhall's B-3 work, is a smoking plea for forgiveness. "Big" features the huge nasty blues-rock that made his other records so popular with I-IV-V beatheads, but Bramhall and Adcock are talking enormous here. They listened to a lot of Diddley records to get these guitar sounds and the drums. Their sound can be likened as popping up through the floor of the apartment downstairs and knock dishes off your table. It's enormous, noisy, and nasty. "Ooh Wee Baby" is a slowish love song, but made for the dancefloor. It's got all this country-styled production in it, but the sound is something from the '50s, all innocent and soulful like the best in rhythm and blues. The humorous "Top Rank Boxing" has the swamp shuffle happening, but the canned handclap sound on it would have been better left out of the mix. Also, "That Day," an acoustic number that sounds like an elegy to S.R.V., just doesn't fit here, especially so near the end of the set. The roiling-snake toughness of big-bumpin' blues is in full force on "Little Star (The Moon Is Shining)." Bramhall's voice with all that reverb on it sounds like it's coming out of a canyon in the middle of a foggy night. But it works. "Is It News" is loud and proud, full of twists and turns in its eclectic production. (Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, and Jim Dickinson will likely really dig this -- even as the squares scratch their heads and wonder, What the...?) But it's also very warm. It's so warm, baby, it'll snuggle up to ya nice and slow like, then grab ya and wrassle ya to the ground and demand your full attention. Then it'll leave you panting for more. Thankfully, all you have to do to reproduce this feeling is play it again. It's retro, sure, but in all the righteous ways -- in others it sounds as space-age freaky-friendly as the Jetsons. Either way it rocks. Is It News is nearly hip beyond belief. Who would have though this kinda cool still existed? This CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007 for Best Contemporary Blues Album. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 25, 2003 | Yep Roc Records

Doyle Bramhall began his music career on Fitchburg Street in Dallas, and on his album of the same name he applies a healthy slathering of Texas style to some rock, blues, and soul songs from his youth (and one of his own creations). It's a recipe for a raw, messy, and delicious delight for fans of rough-and-tumble bar band blues. Bramhall's style of Texas blues sounds a lot like Stevie Ray Vaughan, and with good reason: Bramhall influenced the Vaughan style, having co-written some of Vaughan's hits, including "Life by the Drop." While Vaughan played it as a soul-wrenching acoustic number on the posthumous The Sky Is Crying, Bramhall picks up the pace to make it a full-throttle rocker. Bramhall's voice is even reminiscent of Vaughan's on many tracks. His vocals are a joyful noise -- what he lacks in talent he makes up for with feeling. He sings with so much enthusiasm on "I'd Rather Be (Blind, Crippled & Crazy)" that you can't help but want to sing along. As befits a Texas blues album, each song features excellent guitar work, and the star guitar belongs to Bramhall's son, Doyle Bramhall II. Doyle the younger plays a mean rhythm guitar and his tone often sounds stolen directly from Vaughan. His shuffle playing on John Lee Hooker's "Dimples" is a dead ringer for Vaughan, while his interpretation of the Band of Gypsies' "Changes" shows that he has some imagination and style of his own. Bramhall's son plays on four tracks, and they shine the most, although the other guitarists and numerous musicians on the album (Bramhall has a lot of friends, it seems) play as tightly as any veteran bar band, held together by Bramhall's solid drumming. The only exception comes on "Sugar (Where'd You Get Your Sugar From)," where Dave Sebree's sloppy slide goes a bit too far out of tune (try a second take next time, guys). But that small misstep can't taint this fun journey through Bramhall's musical memories. © Michael Gowan /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released January 19, 2001 | RCA Records Label

Welcome, Doyle Bramhall's third effort, continues to blur the lines between rock and blues, but he doesn't always achieve success with this tactic. Although the album opens with "Green Light Girl," a frenetic tune with lots of rockin', driving guitar riffs, the majority of the songs veer toward blues, albeit unconvincingly. "Send Some Love," an aching ballad, calls for emotion-drenched crooning, but Bramhall's vocals are a tad too cool, and "Thin Dream" attempts at bluesy stylings but is really a rock power ballad. The last cut, "Cry," finally whips up some emotion from Bramhall, but it should have been spread throughout Welcome. Even contemporary blues needs a little grit. © Rosalind Cummings-Yeates /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1996 | Geffen

With Doyle Bramhall II, the bluesman continues to move deeper into soul, which isn't surprising considering that Wendy & Lisa, Prince's collaborators during the mid-'80s, produced it. While there is still a distinct bluesy bent to his guitar playing, the material is more soul-oriented and polished than before, which will initially alienate some of his contemporary blues fans. However, the album shows considerable musical invention and skill, particularly during its instrumental passages. It's just unfortunate that it loses momentum due to inconsistent songwriting. © Thom Owens /TiVo
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Blues - Released February 7, 1994 | Texas Music Group

Well, they say the best things in life are worth waiting for -- drummer Bramhall started recording this tasty blues-rock album in 1980, wrapping it up in 1992 -- here it is, out on Antone's in 1994. Not a shabby effort, either -- Bramhall has that big smoky Bob Seger kind of voice, and the music is muscular and warm, a friendly, welcome bar-rock kind of sound. Good stuff, I say. © Steven McDonald /TiVo