This review is almost identical my review of Steve's June 2010 album "Bingo". This new April 2011 album, "Let Your Hair Down", is a sequel of sorts, although it was actually recorded at the same marathon sessions as "Bingo". It features more vintage blues tunes than the earlier volume (no Jimmie Vaughan tunes here), but the number of tunes where Steve gives up the lead vocal mic to Sonny Charles is nearly identical to Bingo.
This is a blues cover album, and a fine and fun recording. Steve's 1986 album "Living In The 20th Century" was a blues cover half-album (on side 2 only - mostly Jimmy Reed tunes), and then he did the brilliant "Born 2 B Blue" in 1988, which was mostly pop standards, R&B, and jazz.
"Let Your Hair Down" is a fine all-blues-and-R&B effort, but be aware that a large portion of the album has lead vocals by Sonny Charles (of Sonny Charles and the Checkmates Ltd fame), and if you heard those tunes on the radio, you wouldn't have a clue that it was the Steve Miller Band. Steve's entire career has been made by hits and album cuts with his trademark vocals, including most of the early classics such as Living In The USA, Going To Mexico, Space Cowboy, My Dark Hour, Quicksilver Girl, and The Joker. And everything he's recorded from 1976 onward has had his vocals, so when you buy a Steve Miller Band album, that's what you expect to hear.
Of the 10 tracks on the regular edition of this album, 6 have Steve Miller lead vocals, 3 have Sonny Charles lead vocals, and 1 is split between Steve and Sonny.
Of the 4 bonus tracks on the special edition, 3 feature Sonny Charles (only 1 with Steve on vocals!).
In the liner notes, Steve speaks lovingly of fellow Texan and blues giant Charles Brown and his Driftin Blues,
the final cut of the special edition bonus tracks, and then he doesn't even sing on it - it's really a disappointment. So if you're going for the Special Edition, you'll get 1 additional track that sounds like a Steve Miller tune. (Of 14 total tracks on the special edition you get 7 tracks that feature lead vocals by Steve Miller, and 1 on which he sings a duet)
That's my complaint, but this is still an enjoyable romp of an album, and I recommend it to all Steve Miller fans.
Put the 7 1/2 Steve vocals here together with the 6 Steve vocals on "Bingo", and you've got a killer blues album by Steve Miller and his band. Yes, Steve is a guitar player, and on a little of his very early work he had other band members sing, but that was the exception, and not what his longtime fans expect to hear on record or in concert. If Steve wants to back-up Sonny Charles, that's fine, but don't release them as Steve Miller songs. This definitely should have been credited to "The Steve Miller Band featuring Sonny Charles". Buy it anyway.