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Warren Haynes: Man In Motion
“Still life is overrated,” Warren Haynes sings on the first line of Man in Motion’s title track—a churning, bluesy, funk gem that opens the album. “Burn-out factor is part of the game. Life should be an adventure. Anything else is a crying shame.” The tune—told from the point of view of an artist with an unquenchable thirst for change and challenges—is clearly autobiographical. It’s a sort of mission statement for the enormously gifted guitarist, singer and songwriter who is forever on the move—regularly thrilling audiences with his work in both the Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule yet somehow also fitting in countless guest spots and solo work. Sure to become a showcase jam on Haynes’ forthcoming tour, the song has the six-stringer letting loose against tangy horn-section breaks.
For Man In Motion, Haynes dug into his roots as a soul music devotee. He brought along the right players for the job, including three New Orleans stalwarts—Dumpstaphunk organist/singer Ivan Neville and drummer Raymond Weber, and Meters bassist George Porter Jr. —plus Faces pianist Ian McLagan, background vocalist Ruthie Foster and veteran hard bop tenor saxophonist Ron Holloway. He goes straight to the source with a juicy cover of Stax/Volt star William Bell’s “Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday,” pairing sweet three-part harmonies on the chorus with another sprawling guitar workout.
The other nine tunes in the hour-plus set—recorded on analog with vintage instruments at the same Austin, Texas studio that was home to Gov’t Mule’s By a Thread sessions in 2009—are Haynes originals. He makes a palpable emotional connection with this material, including the post-breakup lament “Sick of My Shadow,” a clavinet-injected showcase for Holloway’s effects-laden declarations. “River’s Gonna Rise” has both a theme and a groove—and Foster’s rejoices—all suggesting New Orleans, while the organ-flooded ballad “Your Wildest Dreams” is a slow and soulful song of regret for a broken romance that can’t be fixed.
The second half is nearly as impressive as the first, with such highlights as the laidback, slow-burning “Hattiesburg Hustle,” which features one of Haynes’ longest and most creative solos, and the gospel-tinged closer “Save Me,” with Haynes backed solely by McLagan and Neville. Man In Motion was worth the wait. Here’s hoping that Haynes’ next solo album comes much more quickly.
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