Album / Artist Review: REAL by Laith Al-Saadi
Reviewed by Joseph Timmons: IndiePulse Music Magazine
Album available at Artist Website http://www.laithmusic.com/music.html , iTunes and CDbaby
The Blues, somehow, this has become a term that encompasses more than just one type of music and way more than one kind of artist. Some would say you have to be sad or have struggled to really sing the blues, some feel it is an art that is only mastered by a lifetime on the road in smokey bar rooms. I would say the blues is the sound of emotion, of feeling and of knowing the difference between heaven and hell, and what we do on this earth.
You take a robust man with a truly impressive beard, a twinkle in his eye that says “I’m looking into your soul, you can’t hide from me” and a guitar that is alive with harmony and grace, you have yourself the man known in the most respected circles of music, Laith Al-Saadi.
Laith is the Blues-man that does not fit the stereotypical mold, if there was one to begin with, a notably humble soul, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person. His style is rich with harmonies and precise string work, yet is not mechanical, if flows with the beat of a youthful heart and sings to you like a mother’s lullaby. In researching Laith Al-Saadi and his musical past, I found some info in his bio, which I’ve taken some info that you may find as interesting as I did, and says everything I could say, but with authority.
Biography notes from Artist Web Site:
Born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI, this talented 36 year old began singing at age 4 and began playing guitar at 13. At 15 years old Al- Saadi formed his first blues band, “Blue Vinyl”. By the time he was 18 years old they had opened for Blues greats like Buddy Guy, Luther Allison, Son Seals, and Taj Mahal and toured the Netherlands. After graduating from High School, Al-Saadi attended the University of Michigan where he received a degree in Jazz Guitar and Bass. During his college years, Al-Saadi was a member of the Johnny Trudell Orchestra and free-lanced with many of Detroit’s greats like Thornetta Davis, Jocelyn B, The Reefermen. In 2004 Al-Saadi was the lead singer/guitarist of the Detroit Lion’s pep band. Since 2000, Laith Al-Saadi has enjoyed growing success as the Detroit area’s premier singer and guitarist. Working relentlessly around town, Al-Saadi generally can be found playing at least 5 nights a week.
This determination has led to recent opening slots for artists like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Leon Russell, Robben Ford, Johnny Winter, Hubert Sumlin, Olu Dara, Ten Years After, Mountain, The Yardbirds and – most notably- BB King at the House of Blues in Chicago (June 8th, 2006). In 2006, Al-Saadi was crowned “King of the Blues” for the Northern Region of the United States by Guitar Center. This makes him one of the top 4 Blues guitarists in the Country.
In GUITAR WORLD magazine (Nov. 2006) Al-Saadi was heralded as sounding like “Danny Gatton and Buddy Guy at their best”. His first release, “Long Time Coming”, is a collection of original songs that has recieved rave reviews by the Ann Arbor News, Metro Times, Current Magazine and the Detroit News. The album has been enjoying airplay at home and abroad. In Jan. 2009 Al-Saadi released his second solo effort, In the Round. The record is an eclectic collection of all-original music that explores many facets of Al-Saadi’s influences…”
The album REAL was recorded in 2013; Al-Saadi teamed up with producer Jeffrey Weber and an all-star cast of L.A. session legends to make his third release “REAL.”. The album was recorded live to 2-track with no edits, overdubs, autotune or compression at the world famous Ocean Way Recording Studios in Hollywood. The album features a dream-band of musicians such as Jim Keltner (Drums), Leland Sklar (Bass), Larry Goldings (Hammond B-3), Jimmy Vivino (Rhythm Gtr/ Backing Vox), Tom Scott (Sax), Lee Thornburg (Tpt), Brandon Fields (Bari Sax), Nick Lane (Trombone / Horn Arranger) and more.
The fact that REAL was a truly LIVE album is why I love it so, rich and vibrant, perfectly mixed and recorded. “The soulful new album harkens back to the great musical traditions of New Orleans and Chicago with a splash of Blues, Country, Gospel, and Roots Rock and is arguably Al-Saadi’s best work to date. It is sure to please Audiophiles, Telecaster fanatics and music lovers of all kinds!” My favorites on this album, well I can’t say that honestly because they are all fantastic, but so far I would have to say both renditions of Gone, especially Gone (Alternate Take) it is serene and beautiful and hits you like a brick. I was listening to it while driving, I pulled over and restarted it, had to hear it from the beginning to hear every note, it was angelic.
Laith Al-Saadi and the all superstar collection of artists working on REAL have recorded a triumph of the art of Blues Music; I only wish I could have been there while it was being recorded. Get the album, you will love it, ‘nuff said, I’m Gone.