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Album review: Gregg Allman's 'Low Country Blues'

January 18, 2011 |  6:23 am

G_allman_240_ At their worst, the blues are license for self-indulgent musicians to toss out all sense of restraint and taste as they let ego run wild. At their best, the blues are a vehicle in which genuinely inquisitive ones wrestle with inner demons in the hope, but with no guarantee, of exorcising them. Gregg Allman, who’s been driven to excess at times over the Southern rocker’s long career, takes the latter path in this masterful effort shepherded by T Bone Burnett and assisted in a big way by the producer’s mojo-wielding band of players.

His voice sounding strong, limber and decades younger than his 63 years might suggest, Allman wrestles with why he feels distant from his woman in Melvin London’s “Little by Little,” and then agonizes after she’s abandoned him in Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman.” His troubles prompt him to light out for parts unknown in Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” and maybe engage in a little retribution along the way.

It’s haunting, often harrowing stuff, but Allman knows this territory well, growling, yearning, pleading for some sense of peace that seems as if it will ever elude him — and maybe anyone who walks the earth. He gets close in the one song he wrote (with Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes), “Just Another Rider,” but the seeds of self-destruction are still apparent. With the help of stellar accomplices including Dr. John, guitarist Doyle Bramhall II and Burnett himself, Allman couldn’t be in better hands.

—Randy Lewis

Gregg Allman
“Low Country Blues”
(Rounder)
Three and a half stars (Out of four) 

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