Nine years after the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan, friend and co-writer Doyle Bramhall is still not out of his shadow. But then again, would anyone be? Probably not. Doyle’s latest, Jelly Cream, can be found under the band name Bramhall.
Bramhall’s style is energetic, driving, and all its own, even though at times it can be similar to that of the later years of Stevie Ray’s life. It is sometimes reminiscent of a Wallflowers/Petty style of rock, and at others, it has a Springsteen-esque, good-old-fashioned American rock ‘n’ roll feeling.
Doyle’s voice is cool, but won’t amaze anyone. It fits well with the similarly cool, but uninspired lyrics that meander dryly through all but a few of the musically well-defined tracks. The guitars are loud and strong. Bramhall’s combination of Doyle and at least one other member on guitar, makes up the wall of sound that is necessary to make this style of rock sound full. The soloing is mostly gentle, but gets raucous a few times on the more funky tunes.
The bass playing is pretty simplistic but fitting. Wendy Melvoin performs the bulk of the bass parts, with various other contributors chipping in. A couple of times on the album these bass players get the shaft in the mix, as their volume level is dropped way too low to hear as more than a droning, low-end noise.
The rest of the group is solid, and more often than not, there are at least two women performing at once. For those who doubt a woman’s ability to rock, I’ll say this: if I hadn’t read the liner notes in their entirety, I never would have noticed.
Overall, the album is worth a listen. Bramhall is tight and driving, but can at times be subtly forceful, with underlying parts that really drive the song, while the stuff that jumps out at you can be less than fiery. All of this adds up to a strong album on the whole.