Tedeschi Trucks Band — I Am The Moon: I. Crescent (Fantasy Records)

Even by their lofty standards, I Am In The Moon is Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi’s most ambitious project yet.

Twenty-four original songs.

Four albums.

One masterwork.

And immersive visual companions for each aurally essential segment.

Think of I Am The Moon as the countryfied blues equivalent of a classic NBA Playoff clash.

Four perfectly paced quarters building towards an unpredictable yet dynamic climax.

Come the release of album number four — IV. Farewell on August 26 — the Tedeschi Trucks Band crowd will, inevitably, be praying for overtime.

But let’s not get greedy.

I. Crescent’s on-the-money opening plays suggest an eclectic 12-strong roster is in the form of its life.

Versatile, vibrant and veering towards the downright brilliant, this first taste of post-pandemic Team TTB is unashamedly victorious.

And if the next three instalments can match the first then I Am The Moon will stand tall as a career-defining game changer.

I Am The Moon Eclipses The Opposition

Inspired by the 12th century poem Layla & Majnun, by Persian wordsmith Nizami Ganjavi, I Am The Moon is an eye-opening exploration of human emotion set against a backdrop of triumph and failure.

I. Crescent, featuring the overarching project’s steepling title track, fuses evocative lyricism with sweeping soundscapes.

And its deep dive into a myriad of loosely linked genres makes for 36 minutes of constantly challenging, evolving and astonishing musicianship.

Once again, Mike Mattinson shares vocal duties with Tedeschi, Gabe Dixon, Mark Rivers and Alecia Chakour.

And just as with every TTB record it’s easy to ignore the voices when the instruments speak so powerfully.

But five albums (or four and a quarter) in and it’s safe to say Tedeschi and Trucks have found the perfect mix.

Then again, ubiquitous set closer Pasaquan is 12 minutes of Southern rock-meets-Afro-jazz joy that requires no words.

It’s the only instrumental track to feature on I Am The Moon’s 24-song set but it’s an ebullient, experimental and euphoric creative tour de force.

Taylor made for a dreamy, meandering mid-summer jam at some sweat-soaked SoCal festival, expect Pasaquan to become a staple of the TTB live show.

Fall In To Line For One Of The Albums Of 2022

The plan was always this: to make I Am The Moon available in four bite-sized and accessible chunks of hybrid Americana.

TTB have long envisaged delivering a multi-layered, almost limitless statement of their gnawing creative intent.

But Tedeschi and Trucks enjoy their music in shorter, sharper bursts.

As such, I Am The Moon is less a compromise and more the perfect solution.

Dixon’s delightful keys dominate the frankly jaw-dropping Fall In.

Whether it’s the understated piano hook at the start or the sweeping chords that dominate the outro., this is top tinkling par excellence.

And while we’re on the subject: what about the red-hot Hammond pacing Pasaquan’s mid-section?

Skip to the five-minute mark and lose yourself in something truly special.

On second thoughts, don’t.

I. Crescent should be enjoyed from start to finish in tracklist order. 

It’s the only way to fully appreciate one of 2022’s most exciting releases yet.

Other highlights?

Well, Circles ‘Round The Sun’s jazzy denouement is on a different level.

And it’s always a pleasure to hear the tried and tested brass section of Kebbi Williams (saxophone), Ephraim Owens (trumpet) and Eizabeth Lea (trombone) in full flow.

I. Crescent shines a light on TTB’s blossoming talent. 

Just imagine the force of the full moon experience.