Born and raised in Tulsa, J.J. Cale, with his band, recorded at least two albums that are now considered great classics of the blues-rock genre. Back in the early ’70s, the popularity of J.J. Cale was practically inexistent. Best known for the covers made by Eric Clapton of two songs (After Midnight and Cocaine), Cale over time developed a unique style. It is a particular fusion of delta-blues, rockabilly, country, swamp rock, and even a little bit of jazz, known as Tulsa Sound. In 1971, taking advantage of the fact that Clapton just recorded a cover of After Midnight, after several years of playing casual gigs and sending demos to labels, Cale recorded his first album Naturally.
A fluid tracklist to taste a drop of blues
The tracklist is smooth and fluid. The songs openly embrace this feeling of quietness, clear southern skies, and dusty roads. Throughout the 30 minutes of runtime, J.J. Cale immerses the listener in his mellow mood of laid-back crunchy solos and almost talked vocal lines. There is no momentum throughout the album. The dynamics hence revolve around the same three-blues-chords played on a low-tempo essential rhythm backbone.
Cale is no a guitar virtuoso: his playing is stripped-back and basic and, at the same time, capable of conveying this feeling of quiet acceptance of all uncertain and problematic moments that life presents to people, trying not to evade from this loneliness but to embrace it to taste a drop of the blues itself.
Naturally raw and simple with elegant choices
The production is spare and simple, but with some elegant choices that enrich the album: in Woman I Love the horns make the record shift from the length of a song to a more rhythm and blues sonic side. In Magnolia, the acoustic guitars and keys create alone fitting background for the phrasing and the whispers. Finally, in Clyde, the strings suggest the kind of spaghetti-western style of the track.
Slow, raw, and unpretentious, Naturally can count among its more substantial virtues its capacity to put the listener in this specific mood every time it’s played.
You can find Naturally on Spotify.