Friday, August 7, 2015

Hot off the Press: A Review of Warren Haynes' new Ashes and Dust Album!

Blues, bluegrass, rock, soloing, and collaboration.... those are five words to describe Warren Haynes' new album Ashes and Dust, which was released on July 24th, 2015. 

Warren plays with Railroad Earth and expresses a mix of Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule, Warren Haynes solo band and other influences.

The album's first song "Is it Me or You" begins with a bluegrass violin intro from Railroad Earth's Tim Cabone, which leads into Warren's Gov't Mule-like rock vocals. To top it off, there's a bit of ABB jamming in there!

Next up is "Coal Tattoo" with an intro from bassist Andrew Altman. The song is Ramblin' Manesque: "just travelling around looking for a job". Warren does his typical furious solos in the fills. 

"Company Man" is a biographical song about his father as a factory worker. Unlike John Lennon's "Working Class Hero", Warren does express much optimism about the Working Class; he was clearly excited to become a musician. 

"New Year's Eve" is an optimistic song: " Next Year's going to be better." I wouldn't say its the best song of the album but its near and dear to me, having seen Warren at Gov't Mule's annual New Year's Eve Beacon run twice, once featuring the likes of Robby Krieger as a guest.

My favorite song of the album is "Stranded in Self-Pity". It's ironic that a guy who has played 200+ shows at the Beacon repeatedly sings, "She's in New York City and I'm stranded in self-pity." 

Warren swaps styles again on "Glory Road", which is somewhat James Tayloresque with a folkish bluegrass guitar intro and Americana lyrics. 

Another highlight is a cover of  Fleetwood Mac's "Gold Dust Woman", which features Grace Potter. Warren prepared this cover a few years ago however. I was at this Beacon show in 2012, when Grace Potter came out with the ABB to play the song. 

Warren as part of  "The Q" with Phil Lesh and Jimmy Herring 
There's a sample of Warren's days with Phil Lesh and Friends during "Spots of  Time", a song he co-wrote with Phil. It features a intro from drummer Casey Harmon and a catchy beat that is reminiscent of "Eye of a Tiger".  
The penultimate "Hallelujah Boulevard" starts slow with some world music but gradually escalates into Govt Mule style rock. To the contrary to the Grateful Dead's " I need a Miracle", this song says "We don't need a miracle."

The final song " Word on the Wind" includes a fair amount of soloing and is mostly redolent of Warren's solo band. 

Ashes and Dust truly illustrates how Warren Haynes is a jack of all trades. You could hear Warren play blues, bluegrass, rock and even a bit of country, gospel and world music!  A few weeks ago, I saw Tedeschi Trucks step into the funky world with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. While I am still obviously sad the Allman Brothers are no longer, I am happy to see that both guitarists are producing quality music of different genres. I look forward to seeing Warren Haynes play some of the songs live with Railroad Earth at the Peach Festival next week; expect a review on the blog soon!

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