This is an album that I had long been anticipating hearing, but for some reason I just kept failing to catch up with Ken DeRouchie to obtain a copy. Now having listened to this over and over, as I just cannot get enough of it, I keep kicking myself and ask myself, “Why did you take so long to pick up this disc”? Muse is without a doubt one of the finest mixture of soul, blues, funk, jazz and R&B material to come down the musical road for some time. It is full of expressive lyrics, finely crafted instrumentation featuring a world class band and deep soulful vocals, all of it sounding as if it came directly from the church of Tower of Power.
Ken DeRouchie is an incredible songwriter. His material is filled with emotional tales reminiscing of personal love, both found and lost and covering all points in between, all forever cherished. And like the best songwriters he has used these experiences to express himself in his art. This is his muse that has proven to be the theme of this album.
All of the tracks included are Ken DeRouchie originals, save for the Percy Mayfield classic “Please Send Me Someone To Love.” The take of that song is perhaps one of the most passionate versions I can think of. And that says a lot as it has been covered by the best in so many outstanding methods over the years. Ken’s stands right amongst the best. To me, the best tracks on Muse are the ones that come across as the most heartfelt, the most soul baring examples of his love. Numbers like “Guide You Home,” “All Of You,” “This Too Shall Pass,” and “Where Do We Go Now.” But all of the songs on Muse bring across his true feelings, and it would be hard to find any weak points amongst the selections.
DeRouchie, aside from being an exceptional vocalist and songwriter, is also a multi-instrumentalist, often handling guitar, drums and keys on a number of the tracks. But he also has behind him one of the tightest bands to be found anywhere, with long-time friends Jeff Knudson on guitar, Alex Shakeri on keys, Caleb Denison on trumpet, Steve Moretti on drums, Rob Busey on bass and Clayton Daffron on sax. This group of highly acclaimed artists help propel the music into that next stratosphere of the exceptional, emphasizing DeRouchie’s songs to perfection. And then there is vocalist LaRhonda Steele, one of the Northwest’s true treasures. She takes the lead on two numbers, “Tryin’ To Tell” and “Sexual Chocolate,” and as you’d only expect it is simply spot on target.
DeRouchie originally put these tracks together in his brother Doug’s studio. Doug had been his life-long best friend and inspiration to pursuing his music, always his biggest cheerleader. Shortly after the final tracks were completed, Doug was hospitalized and soon passed from a long battle he’d fought with liver disease. He never heard the finished product that Jeff Knudson completed at his Primordial Soup Recording Studio, but like those past loves, Doug was also an important muse to Ken.
Perhaps the impact of those muses that affected DeRouchie are best described by his own lyrics in “All Of You:” “Feed my soul, feed my mind / give me sight, I’ve been blind / Take my hand, touch my heart / Touched my life, from the start.”
The words and inspiration are felt throughout Muse. Ken DeRouchie has created an album that can speak to us all. Definitely a master work for him and the band.
Total Time: 71:35
Guide You Home / Unglued / Tryin’ To Tell / All Of You / No Do-Overs / This Too Shall Pass / Please Send Me Someone To Love / Muse / Sexual Chocolate / True To You / Family Life / Where Do We Go Now / Hey Baby / Learn To Live / Dark Betty