I have to give credit where credit is due. Any child of a rock icon with a modicum of talent can approach just about any major record label and secure himself or herself a lucrative record deal. Rock and roll is well into its second generation now and a good number of children of rock stars have done just that. So what does that say about a child of a rock star who knowingly chooses not to travel that road? To me, it says that he is grounded, genuine, and passionate about his music and his place in the music landscape. It is difficult to tread in your family’s footsteps and all too often you might not be taken seriously, trafficking on your heritage. Those are some of the reasons I applaud Devon Allman and celebrate the release of his second solo album Ragged & Dirty due out Tuesday October 14 on Ruf Records
Allman came to the music business comparatively late, not forming a band until he was well into his twenties. That band, Honeytribe, was well received and to date they have released two albums. From there, Allman hooked up with Mike Zito and Cyril Neville of another musical family (The Neville Brothers) and formed Royal Southern Brotherhood which has released two studio albums and a live record recorded on their 2012 tour of Germany. Concurrent with his work with The Brotherhood, Allman found time to get into the studio and record his first solo record Turquoise in 2013 and firmly establish himself as a force in the biz. For his second solo album, Allman set up shop in Chicago with a group of players so authentic, they would be right at home at the Maxwell Street market. This record is authentic and real, drawing upon numerous musical influences including blues, folk, soul, R&B and of course rock and roll.
Allman contributed five of the twelve songs on the album and drummer and producer Tom Hambridge came with another four so by no means is this to be considered a “covers” album. Rounding out the set, Allman pays tribute to blues legends Otis Taylor and Luther Allison covering a song each (including the title track from Allison) and finally, a tune that initially sounded out of place but fits right in; a cover of “I’ll Be Around” the Detroit Spinners soul pop hit from 1972. I say that the Spinners cover fits right in because rather than a “Southern Rock” band, I always saw The Allman Brothers as southern rock’s counterpoint to The Grateful Dead and we know how much fun The Dead had covering classic Motown tunes; ("Dancing in the Street", "The Way You Do the Things You Do", "Ain't That Peculiar") among others.
I hate to draw comparisons but to casual listeners many of the songs will sound like Allman Brothers tunes but I chalk that up more to DNA than a conscious effort to sound like Allman’s famous father and uncle. The sound is all his own. One of the highlights of the album for me is the nine plus minute blues jam “Midnight Lake Michigan” where Allman lays it all out there and stakes his claim for being one of today’s truly great blues guitarists. This album should receive a great deal of publicity and establish Devon Allman as a serious musician traveling his own path to stardom.
You can purchase the album at your favorite music retailer or from the site http://www.devonallmanband.com/
Listening to the new album from My Silent Bravery, I am reminded of a quote attributed to the noted Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean (1787-1833). The quote is “dying is easy, comedy is hard”. I bring this up because the fourth album from the Boston based group titled ‘Diamond From Coal’ is a triumph of positivity. MSB eschews standard blues themes of loss, hard times, and despair upon which much of the rock and roll idiom is based. Instead, MSB has produced a record that is positive, hopeful and upbeat without it sounding like an ‘Up With People’ rally. Truly a task in this increasingly uncertain world.
Songwriter Matthew Shwachman has penned a batch of songs Billboard magazine has called “eloquent” and “authoritative”. The melodies are accessible to a modern audience and many of the hooks linger long after the album spins to a pause. Producers Anthony Resta (Collective Soul, Shawn Mullins) and Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray) know how to get the best from their artists and the work they have done for MSB is no exception. In this day and age, it is good to hear songs produced with enough space to let them rise or fall on their own merits. The production is first rate.
This being MSB’s fourth release, you would think that the band has hit its stride. This album certainly will not disappoint their legion of fans but this reviewer can’t help but think MSB has much more to say. I will enjoy this record and I will be on the watch for the next album from MSB which I can’t help but think will be as good as or better than this release. There is too much talent here to remain throttled. As far as the indie pop genre is concerned, My Silent Bravery stands out as one of the bright lights and shows no sign of fading.
Standout tracks include, “Amazing”, “Gone”, “On My Side” and “Better Things”
visit the site to purchase the album http://mysilentbravery.com/
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.