warren haynes ashes and dust album review

Album Review: Warren Haynes ft. Railroad Earth, ‘Ashes and Dust’ | Set for Release on Concord Records on Friday, July 24, 2015

by • July 16, 2015

The name Warren Haynes elicits devotion on a near spiritual level. From The Allman Brothers to Gov’t Mule–Haynes has been a part of bands that enjoy a religious cult following. Best known for his incredible guitar playing, Haynes also has a voice that is immediately recognizable, like comfort food for the Southern Soul. So much so that many folks, especially of a younger generation, know Haynes as the voice of The Allman Brothers Band.

Haynes surprisingly left The Allman Brothers Band in 2014. Part of his reasoning was to work on a solo effort that will be available on Friday, July 24, 2015. The record is more Americana-feeling than you would expect from the voice of Gov’t Mule or the Brothers Allman. But that does not mean purists will be disappointed. Haynes’s jazzy guitar licks are still very present, but the lyrics tell tales of recession, love, race, and the ongoing struggle for zen.

From the beginning it is apparent this is the record Warren Haynes wanted to make. Haynes enlisted festival darlings Railroad Earth to serve as his band, and the marriage works. On first listen, while making dinner or cleaning the house, the themes slip right past the listener, because of the album’s clean feel. The music is smooth and beautiful, but there is so much more to be heard.

Haynes tackles the issue of race more than once on this album. If you believe what Fox News tells us, we live in a post-racial society. Those of us who live in the real world know that there is no such thing, and we need musicians like Warren Haynes to slap us in the face and remind us that we are teeming with potential power.

“We don’t need a miracle/we don’t need nothin’ but ourselves,”

Haynes wails on a tune called “Hallelujah Boulevard.” The song is a statement about race and poverty. Its characters find themselves in those seemingly impossible situations where a life of hustling seems to be the answer to life’s problems. One such character impliedly sells drugs, another preaches salvation on a street corner.

The song does not offer answers, but it is an honest appraisal of the state of poor people and people of color in this world. “Beat Down the Dust” does not offer any answers either, but it too takes on race in an honest way. Haynes’ voice lends instant credibility to the lyrics, and this tune clearly illustrates that point. “Time to beat down the dust/we can’t have it risin’ you see.” Haynes minces no words when taking on the powers that be.

No business executive would dare publicly say that they intentionally hold down people of color and poor people through their practices. Institutionalized racism menaces behind the scenes and out of the consciousness of the average citizen. Haynes is not content to allow willful ignorance. He has made an album that begs listen, a brave piece of art that clamors to be streamed to the masses.

Warren Haynes Ashes and Dust Album Review by Jason Earle.

For more info, and to purchase Ashes and Dust, please visit http://www.warrenhaynes.net/


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