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How Black Dub Was Formed

How Black Dub Was Formed

Daniel Lanois produced Trixie’s father, Chris Whitley, years back. Right after recording her first EP, Trixie went to see Brian Blade and Daniel Lanois play and Lanois somehow ended up getting a copy of the EP. He called her months later stating she could be the “missing link” to some compositions that Lanois and Blade had put together back in the day. The group then came to life.

They work cohesively following the old less is more formula using Lanois’ lyrics and Trixie’s vocals as the baseline.

She has this deep, intense bluesy rasp in her voice that reflects her soulful mind. Traveling from the low pitches to the higher ones, in a delicate and subtle manner, she showcases the rawness she can bring to the plate. Potent. With an honest touch of vulnerability, no need for flourishes, frills, or stunts. The bass prepares the ground for her voice to walk on, and together they set the mood for the rest of the sound.

There is a sense of intimacy there when she performs, that manages to make a whole room go silent, while her voice invades you in a refreshing and liberating manner, reaching under your skin and making you forget about the rest of the instruments. This close vibe remains even with the regular instruments stripped away, in sessions like the Bing Lounge with “I’d rather go blind”, where they play bass and guitar, or even the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert, where they are left with only an acoustic guitar.

They end up crafting songs, that if done wrong, run the risk of coming through as cheesy, yet somehow manage to pull together the right care and components for these to finally turn out as true passionate stories told with all the emotion they had at the moment they were written.

Their song “I believe in you” live from KCRW, or “Surely” and “Silverado”, both played at Guitar Center in 2011, have been their best performances and versions so far, where Brian Blade, with his gospel background, plays a smooth blues-rock down tempo on the drums, that he increases in the more powerful notes sung by Trixie, giving the song strength and intensity, without overshadowing or detracting from her vocals.

Creative freedom comes through in their work, taking the songs on an unexpected path when they perform, and offering that unique fresh feel. However that rawness gets lost when songs like “Surely”, “Silverado”, “I believe in you” or “I’d rather go blind” are recorded to their album. That authenticity that defines them gets numbed down in a way by a more mechanised process that doesn’t live up to their live shows. For their next album, I’d like to think that that creativity will leave the core that makes them stand out, untouched.

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