O(Featuring Railroad Earth): Ahes and Dust (2015)

Between the end of the Allman Brothers Band and a pause in Gov't Mule career, Warren Haynes offers us his third solo album with Railroad Earth, an Americana/Folk/Newgrass band from New Jersey. Warren has told to the press that these songs have been written twenty or thirty years ago and he always wanted to record them. Now it's done and result is pretty good, at his reputation level. But Allman Brothers band and Gov't Mule fans will be surprised because this record is really different of these two bands.

This album is a mix between Appalachian music, Irish folklore and Country music with Southern roots. So Southern fans will enjoy violin, mandolin and banjo that are perfect with Warren's guitar. Some songs are between excellent and perfect, some others are good and a few of them are not good enough, in my opinion.

First four songs are really incredible and what I call a "musical slaughter", as they are good in composition and in interpretation. So, "Is It Me Or You" opens the album with a great chorus, a violin riff and a wonderful Southern slide guitar solo. A very good job!

"Coal Tattoo" is in the same way but a little bit faster, and Warren's guitar is always so good. It looks like Charlie Daniels Band at his best.

Guitar becomes acoustic on "Blue Maiden's Tale", a wonderful Country song. "Company Man" is a perfect mix between Country, Bluegrass and Southern style on a rhythmic tempo, a violin solo and a slide guitar. This song is about the independence benefits and against the industry power: «  I make a dollar when a man makes ten. Everything I got, I got with my own pence. Never wanted to be no Company man”.

Another crazy song is "Gold Dust Woman" which is a cocktail of different music sources, Appalachian style, Southern music and Swamp Blues from Louisiana. Grace Potter on vocals brings her intensity.

"Stranded in Self-Pity" is the weakest song of the album ; it looks like a Romanian orchestra song. Weird!

Country ballads arrive with "New Year's Eve" and "Glory Road" with an acoustic slide guitar.

Warren Haynes takes again his acoustic guitar on "Beat Down the Dust" and that song looks like what did Bob Dylan with Charlie Daniels years ago.

"Wonder Lust" is a Southern country song on a mid-tempo with harmonica, that makes us think about a meeting between Kris Kristofferson and the Allman brothers.

Oteil Burbridge and Marc Quinones (from the Allman Brothers band) come to help Warren on "Spots of Time", a song with jazz moments and a guitar solo close to the Allman brothers. Don't forget the nostalgic ballad "Hallelujah Boulevard" too and the excellent slide solo on "Word on the Wind".

Between the Allman Brothers band jams and Gov't Mule, Warren Haynes has already shows how gifted he is. And he continues to prove it on this surprising but great album that brings us to the deep South roots.

Very good job!

Olivier Aubry

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