For the better part of two decades, Tab Benoit has showcased his unique brand of the blues. The Louisiana native has blended Delta blues with country and rock, all with a Cajun flavor to come up with his unique sound. Benoit has spent more than 10 years on the Telarc label, with the best of his recordings for them collected on Legacy: The Best Of Tab Benoit.
The disc opens with a cover of Buddy Miller’s “Shelter Me,” a fine vehicle for Benoit’s gritty, soulful vocals. The track is about overcoming the odds and is made all the more poignant in post-Katrina Louisiana. Benoit has been an activist since before Katrina with his Voice of the Wetlands, an organization designed to promote awareness of the receding wetlands in the region.
“Night Train,” a Benoit original, features a “La Grange”-inspired riff with some blistering leads courtesy of his Telecaster, while “Comin’ On Strong” is more country than most songs on country radio today and showcases Benoit on pedal steel guitar. Benoit is joined by the song’s author, Billy Joe Shaver, on the track.
Benoit’s cover of the classic, “For What It’s Worth,” is almost unrecognizable in its laid-back, bluesy feel. It doesn’t replace the power of the original, but it’s a valid version and a fresh new take all the same. Benoit delivers a yearning vocal on Otis Redding’s “These Arms Of Mine,” a track that also features some of his most melodic playing.
In a live version of “Bayou Boogie,” Benoit asks the audience, “If we give you the boogie, can you handle it?” It’s a valid question to be sure as the song chugs along at a fever pitch throughout, demonstrating the guitar skills of Benoit and Jimmy Thackery. It’s an exciting end to a fine collection showcasing Benoit’s many, diverse talents.
Benoit’s first Grammy nomination actually came for his country album, Brother To The Blues and he may not be a household name to the average music fan, but he should be. Benoit is a talented singer-songwriter guitarist and Legacy: The Best of Tab Benoit is ample proof of that.