CD Review: Devon Allman ~ Ragged & Dirty


Devon Allman
Ragged & Dirty
Ruf Records


This is an album that catches your attention with the bold font used for Devon Allman with the slopping capitals that emphasise the V in Devon and the A drawing you in to the surname, this is another workaholic Allman full of talent whether in the studio on the road with a band or solo. The colouring is Blue and White with the album title small in a quirky type that almost makes the words look like they have been scripted in Sanskrit; as do the titles of twelve tracks captured in the recording studio.

Opening with three of Tom Hambridge’s tracks that fit Devon’s driving style so well with the energy of Southern Rock tempered and controlled without losing its warmth and flow of the driving harmonies. Half The Truth, with a searing lead guitar and vocals from Devon filled out with the Rythmn guitar from Giles Corey; this full sound is then embellished with stylish bass from Felton Crews. The track seamlessly flows into Can’t Lose ‘ Em All, with drumming from Tom Hambridge who adds a shimmering symbol crescendo that highlights the vocals that just get better; Devon knows how to wrest every emotion out of words making the lyrics bend to his direction. The organ from Marty Sammon gives this a very Allman Brothers feel and there is something in Devon’s delivery that will always connect him to Duane. The third of the opening trio has a mix of Acoustic from Giles and Devon’s electric giving a jaunty country feel to Leavin’ it is a journey that has no sense of direction just hope; the music has a texture of a jam that has objectivity and control.

Midnight Lake Michigan, has a different ethereal shape to the preceding tracks. But fits in perfectly adding another sound pattern, throughout the 9 minutes of searing instrumental there is a fluidity that comes with intuitive playing this is the perfect jam on a moonlit night. The atmosphere created is full of mystery and there is a tension between the instruments making the playing sparkle with a shimmering energy. This centre piece of the album is fusion music that is not being clever but drawing in a primitive soul within blues/jazz movement and the stripping of the instrumentation down to Devon on guitar, Marty on keys and the rhythm section keeps the tempo light and fresh.
Then a change of colour, shape and form with Ten Million Slaves, this version of Otis Taylor’s track is stark and the words create a graphic picture with the harshness of Devon’s vocal’s there is nothing gentle about this track; it is an emotive track that stirs and leaves you thoughtful. We need another style and tempo to deal with gambling addiction so we have distorted vocals, funky beat that develops a feeling of fever that all addictions does to a person when under its spell.
The penultimate track is the title song and a shortened version of Luther Allison’s Ragged and Dirty and gives the album some fantastic Wah Wah adding another tonal shape and texture. Closing the album with Leave The City full of yearning for a simpler life the lyrics suiting the voice, resonator and drums, this minimalist approach reflects that need for something less complicated and leaves you feeling this album has been a journey for Devon, reflected on the track Traveling which alludes to the many airmiles accrued while touring with Royal Southern Brotherhood. The album finishes with a fade away that is a perfect ending for Ragged and Dirty; an album full of soul, funk, but very little blues is in fact stronger for that as Devon is creating his own blends that suits his style and the mood of the moment. A much darker more considered album than Turquoise, with a focus and drive to all the tracks whether self-penned or not have a shape creating an album with purpose and form.
Having listened to the album before starting to write it is the music that matters, there is a melodic flow throughout the album so every track meshes together creating a tapestry of sound with every instrument having a place in the waft and the weave of the lyrical fabric created in an album that is neither ragged or dirty but mighty fine musicianship delivered with passion care and an intuitive feel for the shape, colour and tone of the fabric of sound created.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Track Listing
1. Half The Truth (Tim Hambridge)
2. Can’t Have Em All (Tim Hambridge)
3. Leavin’ (Tim Hambridge)
4. I’ll Be Around (Thomas Randolph Bell)
5. Traveling (Devon Allman)
6. Midnight Lake Michigan (Devon Allman)
7. Ten Million Slaves (Otis Mark Taylor)
8. Blackjack Heartattack (Devon Allman)
9. Back To You (Devon Allman)
10. Times Have Changed (Tim Hambridge)
11. Ragged and Dirty (Luther Allison)
12. Leave The City (Devon Allman)

Devon Allman – Lead Vocal & Guitar
Felton Crews – Bass (All Tracks except 12)
Giles Cory – Guitar (All Tracks except 6 & 12)
Tom Hambridge – Drums
Marty Sammon (All Tracks except 5,7 & 12)
Bobby Schneck Jr – Lead Guitar/ Harmony Vocals (Tracks 2, 7 & 10)
Wendy Moten – Background Vocals (Tracks 4 & 9)

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