Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Warpaint-The Black Crowes

This album was a real breath of fresh air when it was released in 2008, it seemed at the time that there was nothing fresh musically on the horizon. Warpaint rectified that, it's a spritited album harnessing the aggression of rock and roll and the beauty of soul, it's a also a testament to the organic approach of recording an album. It's the less is more approach that often reaps the greatest harvest. The Crowes themselves sound revitalised on the album, it was their first studio album in 7 years and the addition of North Mississippi All stars guitarist Luther Dickinson and keyboardist Adam MacDougall gave the band a more deeply driven sound.

I remember hearing Daughters of The Revolution on Off The Record and thinking what a great song, intertwining guitars and Chris Robinson in full throat, the song has this apocalyptic feel to it. Luther plays some brilliant slide to accompany the solid rhythm of Rich Robinson. The album was recorded in upstate New York in the Catskills and like The Band's albums from that period, it was recorded live with few overdubs. Walk Believer Walk is a dark sermon, Chris Robinson displays this great knack for surreal lyrics but with a very literal bent. Luther conjures up burning sparks of slide guitar giving the feeling of the pits of hell not being too far away.

Josephine strips things back with a more alternative country flavour, it's about the darker side of life, and looking for something to hold on to. The highlight comes in the final stanza as the band create this amazing wall of sound, before Adam MacDougall blasts off with an amazing cadence of notes, pure soul driven playing, one of the highlights on the album. Evergreen heads off into darker pastures with Luther stretching each note, We Who See The Deep follows Robinsons penchant for psychedelic spaced out themes. It's that approach that Robbie Robertson favoured, to craft a story from the shadows, to drag it from the southern heartland where the greatest stories live.

Locust Street has a beautiful acoustic opening the song has this lament of everything not being right on Locust Street,

Dry bread on the table,
Burn the milk, salt, the paper
And it's easy pickings on Locust Street,
There's no place to hide
And you can't find love on Locust Street,
but you can hear the sunrise crying.

The middle has a soulful interlude from Robinson and some delicate keyboard work from MacDougall who adds some pointed piano flourishes and a keyboard melody reminiscent of Garth Hudson. The Crowes go garage and gospel on God's Got It with some rough and ready fretwork from Dickinson and Rich Robinson. There's Gold in Them Hills has the Band feel, a story song of the hardships of life on the wild frontiers, surrounded by thieves and bandits, with the prospect of gold in the hills being the only hope. The old time feel is continued on Whoa Mule which was recorded outdoors in the backyard of the studio, it has a wonderfully rustic feel to it. This ranks as one of my favourite albums.

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