The new Warren Haynes album, Ashes & Dust, takes a few listens to fully comprehend its richness. At first pass the album sounds like most other better-produced country-meets-blues-rock records, but it’s not until the third or fourth full listen that the delicate undertones of the music really begin to take hold.
The intro track, “Is It Me Or You” haunts as much as it pleases. It’s that appropriate blend of mandolin, slide guitar, banjo and gritty, trademark Warren vocals that mix to give the listener a fitting segue for the remainder of the release. “Coal Tattoo” ups the tempo a bit and it’s here that the guitar work really starts to shine. The groove sets in and gives a genuinely pleasant ride.
“Company Man” is the albums token anti-capitalist anthem, decrying the white collar life as only Warren Haynes can. Veteran fans of Haynes through his time with the Allman Brothers Band and Government Mule will appreciate what he’s doing with this track – using his lyrics to underscore the need for personal independence and work integrity.
The rest of Ashes & Dust is a notable conveyance of genuine musical character. Guitarists and those who simply enjoy a well-picked solo will not be disappointed either, as every single song has a suitable pentatonic run or another that works to tie the track together. My only gripe with this record is that there was no risk taken here. There’s nothing here that makes the listener sit up and say, “Whoah!! Did I just hear that?”.
Ashes & Dust is a with-the-grain release and is fully deserving of the attention of longtime Warren Haynes fans as well as newcomers to the genre.
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