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Boz Scaggs | Out of the Blues

If this really is the final chapter in Scaggs' rootsy trilogy, he's going out on a high note.

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Boz Scaggs gave me the lowdown on his new direction back in 2010 — before even he truly saw it coming. “I’m exploring some different styles of music now,” the singer-songwriter told me during an interview to promote some Canadian tour dates. “I’ve worked with some Nashville people … and (blues guitarist) Jimmie Vaughan and I have done some stuff together over the last year to explore my Texas roots. I think there’s something in there that I haven’t tapped, and it’s something I’d really like to follow up on. So I think it will be a combination of things. It might be more rootsy, perhaps, than what I’ve done before. But I can’t be more specific than that, I’m sorry to say.” Anyone who’s paid attention to the music he’s released since then knows he’s got nothing to apologize for. In 2013, Scaggs kicked off his latest chapter with the superb disc Memphis. Celebrating the city’s musical heritage along with his own, Scaggs and an all-star band fused southern soul, juke-joint blues and old-school rock ’n’ roll, setting classics by Al Green, Jimmy Reed, Tony Joe White and others against his like-minded originals. Two years later almost to the day, the trumpet-like crooner doubled down with A Fool to Care. It expanded his stylistic terrain with Crescent City R&B and rootsy rockabilly, while welcoming guests like Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams on gems from Li’l Millet, The Impressions and The Band, augmented once again with originals cut from the same regional cloth. Now we have the tellingly titled Out of the Blues, purportedly the final entry in Scaggs’ rootsy trilogy. If so, he’s going out on a high note. Like its predecessors, the disc features a crack band (including drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Willie Weeks, keyboardist Jim Cox, harp player Jack Walroth and guitarists Charlie Sexton, Doyle Bramhall II and Ray Parker Jr., plus a horn section). And it stars another set list that seamlessly moves from Scaggs and Walroth’s nostalgic contributions to authentic recreations of Jimmy McCracklin, Jimmy Reed and Bobby (Blue) Bland. Interestingly, that last entry brings up something else Scaggs told me in 2010: “Bobby Bland is one of my favourite singers, but I can’t sing a Bobby Bland song, because I don’t have that facility.” Looks like he didn’t see that coming either.