To start off on this review, we'll take a look at the solo album of Warren Haynes, which is nominated for Best Blues Album. If you don't realize who he is right off the bat, a quick overview: this is the kickin' guitar player we've seen with The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead, and Gov't Mule. He's always been known for his powerful guitar skills, and this album is bringing his strong vocal abilities to light for our enjoyment.
I'm just listening to the EPK from his YouTube account, and I'm already loving some of the clips we're getting exposed to. Yeah, it's, I guess, technically a blues album, but there is so much funk and soul from this guy too.
Let's get down to it, shall we?
The title track, "Man In Motion" starts off and this is exactly what I mean about this no being able to be placed into the box of a strictly blues album. The vocals are strong and soulful like Michael McDonald, and the music has this fantastic beat that keeps you wanting more. Immediately, I want to hear this live too - there's that feeling it could be just as awesome, if not more. The music goes on for a while (it's a little over 7 minute long track), but it's the best jam music I've ever let play that long.
Warren's killing me with this album being unavailable on Spotify, and I'm having to revert to YouTube videos of performances because no one's uploaded the tracks like I've been able to find on other CDs. Good thing is that I'm able to share some sweet performances with you guys, like this one for the next track "River's Gonna Rise."
"Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday" most definitely has the blues theme to it musically, but is possibly the happiest blues song I've heard. He's excited to have her home, but the guitar isn't celebrating with him. Don't get me wrong - I love to feel to it, and enjoyed it overall - I'm just reading into in a little bit and that takes some getting used to.
And now "Sick Of My Shadow" is kind of doing the opposite. The title suggests a really sad, bluesy song, but the beat is up and the chords are major. The voice, at least, is a little more down. I think this is the kind of song that speaks of him as a blues artist and what drove the Grammy nomination.
"Your Wildest Dreams" punches with soul in a slow manner that just makes you want to close your eyes and sway along. It's a cry out to someone that you're done and it's up to them to do something about it. Musically, the saxophone has this fast instrumental break that sounds like a mini freak-out and panic attack. I like this one for the power inherent within, but it doesn't work entirely as a number I'd need to hear again.
We move into funk with "On A Real Lonely Night," and it's downright groovy from the get-go. The blues aspect comes in for sure with the lyrics, if that title doesn't make it obvious. Not really too much to say here; just kind of want to kick back and enjoy a bit.
"Hattiesburg Hustle" takes that beat to a way slower smokey-room, almost in a dark way. There's this awesome moment about a minute and a half in where the clean mic sound is completely stripped away, and it sounds like we're hearing him in a sort of bathroom-echo way, giving that ghost voice talking a bit. This is kind of why I love discussing music like this - there's so much more to it.
The saxophone takes back over with a vengeance at the beginning of "A Friend To You," but it turns to a completely different sound and song shortly after. I became less interested when a more regular rhythm started. It's a sweet song lyrically, trying to be kind of offering everything to someone. It's not there musically though - this is by far one of the more boring experiences on the album.
"Take a Bullet" was one I couldn't find an audio recording of, so I'm using live footage. Apparently he used this as an opener at a big show at the Paramount in New York. Lots of drums get it going, trying to amp the audience up (achieved, by the way). I think I've figured out the downside to Warren though - he doesn't show much energy in his concerts. Everything I've heard is an awesome aural experience, but not as great when I watch him live. It's all about the sound.
The final song on the album is "Save Me" and it appropriately ends the album in a much more solemn way, being a cry out instead of a party like the other ones. It's blues in a pop manner, instead of using the guitar we've sort of gotten used to being the backbone. It's a reflection of that power voice we talked about at the beginning, and it a great way to round out this award nominee.
Stuff I wouldn't mind hearing again:
This was really truly a good album though. I loved so much of what was brought to the table musically, and probably could go for jamming out to this endlessly on a night in or at a live show. It's really impressive the quality of musicality give on just ten tracks, and the combinations of styles was beautiful. It's a style of music I think everyone "likes" but no one truly listens to on a regular basis. This is a convincing argument for giving more a try for sure.