Laith Al-Saadi: Real.
Laith Al-Saadi has been wowing audiences in Southeast Michigan for years. The blues based guitar style and incredible interpretations of classic tunes have made him a local legend in Ann Arbor. His abilities far exceed the “big fish in a small pond” assessment usually held for local favorites. Name your guitar heros, be they Clapton, Hendrix, or Beck, and Laith could go up against them any day. This is a singular talent worthy of a national audience.
Apparently Jeffrey Weber thought so too. He approached Laith about doing a project and asked him to pick his dream band. With a bit of a “yeah right” attitude a list was made including Lee Sklar, Tom Scott, Larry Goldings, and Jim Keltner. Everyone said yes. They assembled in the studio to record “live” on two tracks. No mixing, editing, overdubbing, etc. was done. This is how “Real.” Came to be.
I have been a Laith Al-Saadi fan since first being indoctrinated during my early days in Ann Arbor. The shows are always amazing. I have also gotten to know the man off-stage and found a human being worthy of support. The only problem ever found was that I never seemed to enjoy his originals as much as the covers. The interpretations are infused with distinct personality and fire, whereas the originals just seemed to lack that energy. Time spent in New Orleans has made a big difference. The five original tracks on this EP / album are gems. Having seen them all performed live at the release event, there is no hesitation in saying they should all be mainstays in future sets.
The blue seems to have been almost forgotten. Without a B.B. King, Buddy Guy or even Eric Clapton at the forefront there is no true champion. Even I have gotten weary of my old recordings. Laith will make you fall in love with the blues again. He performs each song with bona fide soul. His booming vocals roar and resonate like the masters of yore. Then there is the guitar, oh the guitar! Remember when you used to listen to guitar licks like lyrics? Those days are back with strings picked, bent, pulled and strummed in ways that penetrate right to the heart. Laith could do an all instrumental and it would be wonderful if I didn’t already know he was a great singer too.
“Real.” is a classic album in a sense. The music is timeless and has mass appeal. Plus it’s just really, really good!
Laith Al-Saadi– vocals, acoustic & electric guitars
Jim Keltner – drums
Lee Sklar – bass
Larry Goldings – keyboards
Jimmy Vivino – background vocals, reso-phonic, guitars
Nick Lane – trombone
Lee Thornburg – trumpet
Tom Scott – saxophone
Brandon Fields – baritone saxophone