Wave the white flag and surrender to Bruton's sound

By Barry Gilbert
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


October 4, 2005

Stephen Bruton
"From the Five"
Grade: B+

Guitarist Stephen Bruton's fifth CD travels a path from doomsday to salvation, with lots of stops in between. It is one of his strongest, and most spiritual, efforts in a career that dates back to the 1970s as a performer, writer and producer but only to the early '90s as a recording artist.

Chances are you've heard his work if you've listened to artists ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Alejandro Escovedo, Carly Simon to the Wallflowers, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore to Peter Case. You've also likely seen him as an actor, often in the company of Kris Kristofferson, and most recently in "The Alamo."

A Texan and roadhouse rocker in the tradition of pal Delbert McClinton, Bruton mixes R&B, blues, rock and country, using his comfortable, weathered monotone over expressive guitar playing that is always in service of the song.

"From the Five" starts quickly with the rocking "Bigger Wheel" -- aka higher power -- in which Bruton shouts "White flag! Surrender!" to forces he can't control. The flip side is the cautionary tale of "The Clock," a doomsday clock that is ticking on man's idiocies.

Other original standouts include "Walk by Faith," "Put Me Out of Your Misery," "Treasured Wounds" and "In the Wind," plus a great cover of "Ordinary Man," cut by Sam (Sam & Dave) Moore and Junior Walker as the Swanky Modes in the movie "Tapeheads."

Stephen Bruton will open for Bonnie Raitt on Saturday night at the Pageant.