The collaboration between JJ Cale and Eric Clapton on their new album, The Road to Escondido, is an idea that has been cooking for many years. It is evident by Clapton’s well-known covers of two Cale songs – “Cocaine,” and “After Midnight” – that the two have admired each other’s work.
The alliance between Cale and Clapton fuses both of their styles of blues, while incorporating other genres such as rock and country. Even though Cale wrote the majority of the tracks, he and Clapton share vocal duties throughout the album. Several guest musicians join in, including Derek Trucks, John Mayer, and the late keyboardist Billy Preston, to whom the album was dedicated. The first single, “Ride the River, “ incorporates a big band with horns, while highlighting both artists’ guitar strengths. Another impressive track is the remake of Cale’s , “Don’t Cry Sister,” which showcases his slinky guitar and smooth vocals. One of the focal points of The Road to Escondido is the ease in which Cale’s down-home singing and playing mesh with the confident guitar playing of Clapton. Slow bluesy numbers – “Heads in Georgia” and “Hard to Thrill” transport you to a different time of smoky blues clubs and heartfelt lyrics that are absent in mainstream music today. Although it took years for this collaboration to finally happen, The Road to Escondido proves it’s never too late to form a new musical partership.