Although not a melancholy tune, “Once I Was” (Tim Buckley, Larry Beckett) made me wonder if Allman was glancing in the rear-view mirror with reflection. This is an introspective Gregg Allman. After listening to this track and others, I also wondered if each of these songs were chosen for specific people in his life as each has a different meaningful theme.
“Going Going Gone” (Bob Dylan) is transformed from a Dylan folk tune to a Southern rock rendition with country twang. Allman’s vocals tell the emotional story about “Closin’ the book on pages and text” but also about letting go and breaking free. The band is in full swing on this tune and a moving guitar solo rounds out the song.
“Willin’” (Lowell George) opens with acoustic guitar and is true to the original but with Gregg Allman’s touch and feel. His strong vocals, lovely piano solo and a pedal steel guitar, form a strong centerpiece for the song. The big sound of the band energizes the feel, and back up singers book-end the full sound.
“I Love the Life I Live” (Willie Dixon) is one of my favorites on the album. Allman gets gritty with his vocals on this tune, a welcomed punctuation from the fairly somber initiation to the tracks. Allman’s vocal talents really shine here. He lends a swampy, blues, country-ish flavor to the Dixon tune and you can hear the fun he’s having singing and playing it.
“Love Like Kerosene” (Scott Sharrard) is funky, blues-country and another up-tempo tune that will delight many Gregg Allman fans with piano solos and a foot stomping beat.
The album closes with, “Song for Adam” (Jackson Browne.) The song is rich with acoustic guitar and moving vocals. It seems an appropriate choice for the last chapter of Southern Blood, as the song reminded Allman of his late brother, Duane Allman, according to the Gregg Allman website. It’s more of a country ballad than some of the other tracks. Allman aligned fairly closely to the Jackson Browne original with the exception of a pedal steel guitar and full band.
I didn’t expect to feel inspired by Southern Blood in light of Gregg Allman’s passing. But I was. Invigorated maybe, as if the beauty of the album was rediscovering Gregg Allman’s music, recapturing maybe, an appreciation for his lasting musical gifts.
Southern Blood by Gregg Allman will be released September 8th 2017 and can be found: