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Husband and wife duo, Michael Trotter Jr and Tanya Trotter (Blout) perform a cross-section of blues, gospel,folk and soul on their debut recording Healing Tide. Based in Albion, Michigan they are both hugely talented vocalists and, lucky to have the legendary Buddy Miller produce their first bash at capturing the hard driven energy of their live performances as he brings in Brady Blade (drums), Jim Hoke (organ, sax, autoharp, harmonica), Matt Slocum (cello), Sam Bush (fiddle), Russ Pahl (pedal steel) Adam Chaffins (bass) plus Emmylou Harris (harmony vocals).
From the outset, the couple show off sibling styled harmony vocals. Yet at the same time retain their individual strength as lead vocalists. Michael’s rugged style is warmed by both the playing, and when called for the beauty of Tanya; that is when she isn’t letting rip. They are the kind of performers Miller can readily identify to. Honest, impassioned and fearless as they come down hard on the likes of title-track Healing Tide; plus, with a bunch of classic soul flavours in the mix the listener can’t help but think here is an act that is the real deal. Of a different style, acoustic mountain fashioned Here Where The Loving Is At is one of a number of songs that sound like they were written way before the couple set foot on this earth. With Bush’s fiddle and Harris’ (his onetime boss) heavenly harmonies nicely intertwined, the music echoes in the mind long after the last sound has wafted from the speakers. More of the same wouldn’t have come amiss for those into the music of Harris (as she lends a pure, new Appalachian feel) and with a preference to acoustic music. But, if that had been the case we wouldn’t have enjoyed a bunch of joyful numbers as in the fabulous One And The Same (I love the combination of autoharp, harmonica and dobro to go with some of the finest vocal harmonies currently available) and stripped back opener Love Like There’s No Tomorrow. Another that has an ageless feel. to it. Others of particular note include If It’s In Your Heart as Michael’s painstaking lead vocals are steeped in pedal steel and with sensitive vocals and piano accompaniment Little New Bern rounds of the album in beautiful fashion.
Tanya’s handling of Are You Ready hits plumb centre, and in doing so she lifts the bar. Nottingham be outdone Michael kicks off All I Wanna Do in fearless fashion and with the support of tasty dobro the song never looks back. For Miller’s part, he ensures the love and passion the Trotters have for music isn’t lost as a rich earthy feel not only pervades, but grows in character. Making this an album the listener will, forever be going back to and, on doing so discover another aspect worthy of greater attention.
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