Often, what translates well at a live show fails to do so on a record. The new album by New Orleans blues rock trio I Tell You What is an example of this unhappy but all-too-common predicament. Though many of guitarist/vocalist Adam Crochet’s songs are catchy and nuanced in a shuffling southern rock way, the fidelity of the recording process is not kind to them. The vocals, which might easily have a certain appeal over loudspeakers, sound raw here and at points suffer from questionable intonation.
Rhythmically, many of the tracks on What Would You Do don’t lock up. This is most apparent on slow numbers like “Blue Lighter,” which has a decidedly aqueous feel. The uptempo songs are crisper and groove much better, and it’s a shame there aren’t more of them.
The largest problems with this album, however, have nothing to do with performance. The average song length is under three minutes, leaving little time for development. Repetitive keys and tempos mean that they’re often indistinguishable. Issues like these may go unnoticed in a club, but on disk they’re readily apparent and the band’s live appeal is lost somewhere in translation.