New out today is the latest recording to feature American guitarist / vocalist / songwriter Warren Haynes.
I first discovered Haynes through “Bad Little Doggie” – a brilliant track with funky syncopation and earthy bluesy guitar playing – from the third Gov’t Mule studio album “Life Before Insanity” back in 2000.
Haynes was a member of the Allman Brothers Band from 1989 – 1997 and 2000 – 2014.
In addition he has been founder member of Gov’t Mule since 1994 and appeared with numerous other acts including The Dead.
Despite a heavy recording and touring schedule Haynes has still managed to find time to record three solo albums. The latest of these, “Ashes & Dust”, is a collaboration with American bluegrass band Railroad Earth.
This marks something of a musical homecoming for Haynes, as he was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina – a state known for its acoustic-based roots and mountain music. On this record Haynes has recorded some new songs as well as some that have been written for some time but didn’t fit into the more muscular sound of either Gov’t Mule or the Allman Brothers Band.
Haynes has said that he consciously altered his approach on this record, wanting to focus less on his amazing guitar playing (though there is some tasteful slide playing and some wonderful soloing) and more on the singing and storytelling of each song – “I was intentionally catering my sound to Railroad Earth’s sound. I tried to pick guitar tones that I felt would work with the fiddle and the banjo, the mandolin, the upright bass and stuff, so I wasn’t relying on any of my go-to sounds. It kind of forced me to play differently.” – and I think it’s worked out perfectly. His guitars really do blend very well with the acoustic instrumentation of the band to produce a very real and authentic sounding album.
The superb Grace Potter crops up to duet with Haynes on a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” which is so good that it rivals the original in my mind – just as atmospheric but with a folksy twist t the sound. Brilliant.
Elsewhere, former Allman Brothers Band colleagues Oteil Burbridge (bass) and Marc Quinones (percussion) add their talents to the eight and a half minute “Spots Of Time”, a song that the band had played live regularly during their last few years but never recorded.
Other songs of particular note are “Hallelujah Boulevard”, a psychedelically tinged number dealing with organised religion and traditional views that influence people’s lives, the relatively up-tempo “Beat Down The Dust” and the delicate “Blue Maiden’s Tale”.
This may not be a concept album that needs to be played from start to finish to make any sense, but it most definitely is a cohesive record that deserves to be listened to – and heard – from beginning to end to appreciate its beauty…
“Ashes & Dust” tracklist:
1. Is It Me Or You / 2. Coal Tattoo / 3. Blue Maiden’s Tale / 4. Company Man / 5. New Year’s Eve / 6. Stranded In Self-Pity / 7. Glory Road / 8. Gold Dust Woman / 9. Beat Down The Dust / 10. Wanderlust / 11. Spots Of Time / 12. Hallelujah Boulevard / 13. Word On The Wind