By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
When it comes to his musical career, between touring as far and often as he does, and releasing powerfully performed albums on a very regular basis, “Drive On” is much more than a CD title for Tas Cru – it’s a philosophy! This latest release – his ninth – contains ten tracks and, as what pretty much is the norm, they’re all original.
On the album, Tas – who sings lead vocals and plays acoustic, electric and resonator guitars and harmonica – is joined by: Mary Ann Casale on lead and backing vocals; Leanne MacRaye and Cary Manse-Neal on backing vocals; Blues Music Award nominee Anthony Geraci on organ, piano and Fender Rhodes; Anthony Terry on saxophone; 2019 IBC finalist and Albert King Award winner Gabe Stillman on slide guitar; Bob Purdy and Colin “Big Yellow Dog” Beatty on bass; Andy Hearn, Cathy Lamanna and Sonny Rock on drums; and Ron Keck on percussion.
The reasons for loving “That Lovin’ Thang” are many: the soulful lead and harmony vocals goin’ on ‘tween Tas and the ladies; the chest thumping rhythm Bob and Andy are pounding out on the bass and drums; the brawny sax leads being blown by Anthony Terry; and especially the rock ’em – sock ’em battle Tas and Anthony Geraci are going tooth and nail at on the guitar and organ. That’s the way to kick things off.
As far as the title track – “Drive On” – is concerned, the interesting and creative sound and musical arrangements that kick it off have me kicking off my comments by giving kudos to the production, mixing and mastering work from the hands of Tas and Ron Keck. Masterful is way to mild a word to describe the skills that were used here. Vocally and lyrically, this very well written song is the most powerful of the lot. The term “drive on” can relate to lots of things and on the song, Tas touches on many of them. This, a possible candidate for ‘song of the year’ recognition, is one that you’ve just got to hear for yourself and I’m just leaving it at that.
With Tas and Gabe going toe to toe on the lead and slide guitars; Bob – on the bass and Sonny – on the drums, pounding out the disc’s fiercest rhythm; and the two Anthony’s wailing away on the keys and the horn; calling “Kinda Mess” the disc’s smoker is indeed understated.
Back in the day I would have referred to a track like this as “trippin’ music”. Interestingly enough, the song is titled “In This Moment” – but if you allow it to, as I have several times already – it will easily take you out of this moment. When you hear it all happening at the same time; the soothing sounds coming from Tas’ finessed guitar style; the heartbeat Anthony Geraci first gives the song with the organ before adding tranquility on the piano; and the sensual and serene vibe Anthony Terry brings with the sax; will all transcend you to wherever you let it. The creme de la creme for sure.
Personally knowing it’s his favorite city adds to the enjoyment of hearing Tas sing about it. Although some of the lyrics like “Honey I’m married to you and I still love you too, but don’t ever ask me choose ‘tween you and “Memphis Blue” do make the song take on a gender, there’s no questioning it’s his love for the city of Memphis that no one should ever come between.
As the title might suggest, the evil’s running rampant on “Devil In Your Heart” (M. A. Casale & T. Cru). From the lyrics and the way they are deeply and darkly sung, whispered and heavily breathed by Tas and Mary Ann, to the eerie mood Tas is creating with the tone of his resonator, the melancholia surrounding this one has ‘soundtrack for a supernatural movie’ written all over it.
Should you like to purchase a copy of “Drive On”, or possibly need one for airplay, contact Tas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, to find out more about Tas himself; the rest of his music; his books; and his admirable work in blues education; just go to www.tascru.com. And as I know you will, please tell him his buddy the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient