Randall Bramblett released two critically acclaimed albums for Polydor in the mid-'70s. For the next 20 years, he entered solo interruptus, playing in the Allmans offshoot Sea Level before backing Gregg Allman, Robbie Robertson, Warren Haynes and Steve Winwood as an in-demand saxophone and keyboard sideman.
He finally returned to his own career with 1998's See Through Me for Capricon, and he's delivered three progressively better solo albums for New West Records since. The first two, No More Mr. Lucky and Thin Places, echoed Winwood's jazzy blues fusion, with Bramblett's reedy tenor even sounding like the old boss's at times. Bramblett was tuneful and appealing on tracks like airy ballad "Are You Satisfied" and the beatnik jazz bouncer "Get in Get Out." He fit neatly in the pocket of the Widespread Panic and Gov't Mule caravan, a placement that was fitting given his past, but certainly a bit redundant.
On last year's surprisingly gritty and homey Rich Someday, Bramblett finally sounded more like himself and less like his peers. Rich Someday plies a swampy, organ-driven Southern blues/rock tone, and Bramblett's voice strikes a gruffer, perhaps more impatient note. The songs are some of the liveliest he's written yet, from his circumspect ode to Stevie Ray Vaughan ("Where Are You Tonight") to the Hill Country blues growl of the title track.
More than anything, the album benefits from Bramblett's increasing embrace of real country roots. He's always been a fine player, but the craft and warmth of these tunes speak more frankly of the heart, as if he's finally come around to letting his listeners in on his own perspective. It's been a long time coming.
Randall Bramblett performs with Dan Montgomery Saturday, Sept. 8, at Hideaway BBQ. Tickets for the 9:30 p.m. show are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.