Southern Blood (2017)

1. My Only True Friend (Gregg Allman-Scott Sharrard) - 6:16
2. Once I Was (Tim Buckley-Larry Beckett) - 3:56
3. Going Going Gone (Bob Dylan) - 4:29
4. Black Muddy River (Jerome J. Garcia-Robert C. Hunter) - 4:37
5. I Love the Life I Live (Willie Dixon) - 3:31
6. Willin' (Lowell George) - 3:36
7. Blind Bats and Swamp Rats (Jack Avery) - 4:32
8. Out of Left Field (Dewey Lindon Oldham Jr.-Dan Penn) - 4:09
9. Love Like Kerosene (Scott Sharrard) - 4:17
10. Song for Adam featuring Jackson Browne (Jackson Browne) - 6:21

Bonus Tracks :
11. I Love The Life I Live (Live From The Clay Center, Charleston, West Virginia, May 6, 2016) - 5:24
12. Love Like Kerosene (Live From The Tower Theatre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 1, 2016) - 7:10

Here is finally the last album of Gregg Allman. And here, the word « last » makes sense. Indeed, Gregg was putting the finishing touches to this work when death prevailed. This posthumous release brings several findings. First, it is extremely difficult to objectively chronicle the disc of a recently deceased artist whom we admired. Secondly, Gregg seemed to be moving towards cooler music than his original style developed with the Allman Brothers Band. This « Southern Blood » is even quieter than « Low Country Blues » released in 2011. Third, Gregg did not compose much and opted for a majority of covers. Fourth, the talented guitarist Scott Sharrard is rather discreet. Fifth, an overabundance of horns slightly harms some tunes.
Let's get into the heart of the matter. The first title, « My only true friend » (composed by Gregg and Scott Sharrard), takes us in a familiar land. This melodic Southern ballad sounds typical Allman with a guitar theme at the third, a beautiful Scott’s solo and a horns-finished finale. Nice work! « Once I was » (from Tim Buckley) comes right behind. This melancholy ballad has a horn background a bit superfluous and is deprived of a guitar solo. Pity ! Bob Dylan's « Going going gone » is taken up in an almost acoustic version with a dobro and a nice slide guitar finale from Scott Sharrard. Only black spot: unwanted horns spoil the tune. We regret the absence of six-string solo on the beautiful ballad « Black muddy river » of the late Jerry Garcia. Similarly, the blues « I love the life I live » (from Willie Dixon) offers a sax solo but we would have still preferred a guitar intervention instead. On the other hand, the country ballad « Willin’ » (by the late Lowell George) makes its effect with a steel guitar and a piano solo. It is certainly the best title of the album. We spend a good time with the slow country/soul ballad « Out of left field » which unfortunately does not have the right to his guitar solo. Gregg's so distinctive voice fits perfectly, but the horns could be dispensable. It must be admitted that the version of Hank Williams Junior (released in 1993) is clearly superior. « Love like kerosene » (a Southern-style jump blues by Scott Sharrard) intensifies with a piano solo and a superb show of Scott. The album ends with a beautiful Jackson Browne song, « Song for Adam ». Incidentally Jackson has risen his voice on this tune. The idea is excellent but, except for a few phrases distilled here and there, the guitar shines by its absence.
Here ! After careful listening, we should now formulate a lucid and impartial opinion. Not easy ! With « Southern blood », Gregg Allman left us a very good album in heritage but not necessarily his best. Far from the blues of the Allman Brothers Band or the atmosphere of the early Gregg Allman Band, this work is nonetheless endearing. We must face the facts. Gregg knew his deadline and knew his time was running out. He put all his courage and determination into recording « Southern blood », with the state of mind of an aged and sick man, attracted by softer music and arrangements. Perhaps he wanted to show us the other side of Southern musical influences.

The other side ... Now, Gregg knows it well.

Olivier Aubry

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