The Allman Betts Band Takes You Down To the River to explore there an infectious brand of Southern sounds on their highly anticipated debut album. Before we explore the music captured for consumption at home, and wherever music follows us.
In December of 2017, Devon Allman was ready. After a year of mourning the losses of his mother and father, Allman was ready to make music again. Allman organized a concert at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco to honour the music and memory of his father, Gregg Allman, and also to debut his new band, The Devon Allman Project. It was also the beginning of a partnership with Duane Betts, son of founding Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer, Dickey Betts. Duane would serve as an opening artist on the Devon Allman Project 2018 world tour, as well as joining Allman each night for a musical tip of the hat to their respective fathers. Bluesdoodles caught up with the Project at The Fleece, Bristol September 2018. A live music extravaganza that set down the marker of anticipation for the debut album of The Allman Betts Band. The baton has moved on to the next generation to play Southern-inspired music with an edge of modernity.
The album Down To The River delivers nine tracks that lift you up, sets your feet tapping and moments of thoughtful introspection that leaves you wanting to hear more from a band that collectively conjures up a soundscape of musical delight. Enough preamble it is about the studio capture of nine tracks that I have been listening to for the last week and now to capture how the music makes me feel in words….
Opening with the instantly recognisable voice of Devon Allman counting the band in and we are off on a journey that excites on every listen. All Night brings in guitar and the instrumentation builds with layers of aural interest as the keys chords pull in the vocals of Devon Allman as we join him on All Night. The mix is upbeat and questioning. Its pace, the shaping of the notes and chords the coming together with the collective interplay of the whole ensemble. The percussion and beat picks up as the vocal lead changes and the tone of the guitar is warm harmonizing into a song that is simply Shinin’! The music flows one this for certain never pigeon hole this band as the song says Try you will find a different landscape on every number. The vocal harmonization brings a warmth that underpins the lyrics and the lead vocals. The guitar has a sting in its tail as we are journeying. The instrumental breaks build the story as we try our best to find ourselves in the music on offer. The song does not fade away but reasserts itself with Devon Allman stating he has Something To Say and then we are into the title track.
The pace slows to a flowing tempo. With an infectious beat with the flow of dance rhythms and so much more. A quieter number that makes a statement. The keys flow through the undercurrent with the percussive drive and vocals that take you down to the river to pray in your own way. A track that cleanses and uplifts as you are carried back home. The guitar interlude is subtle, stinging and acts as the coil in the spring for the vocals to continue yearning for redemption and hope. We now have a country slightly psychedelic tone, nothing frenetic but thoughtful introduction by the guitar as we shoot the Autumn Breeze with Duane Betts’ vocals. The longest track on the album that builds and builds and keeps on giving. The guitar harmonies are an aural delight that captures your attention. Yes, we have vocals that harmonise and meld in so the track has a feel of an instrumental with the voice being one, as you float on the breeze created by the band.
If you expect Good Ol Days to be retrospective, think again. The song has a powerful message that these are the Good Ol Days, live them they are for you to enjoy. The song is an antidote to the hate, the yearning that is prevalent that yesterday was a better time. These are sweet times to be cherished forget hatred and anger just enjoy the moment with the music. The mood lifts, the volume increases with Melodies are Memories. We have melodies that will be in our memories for many a year and this track celebrates this. It is the influence of music recorded and live captured in the song full of vim, vigour and power on this jaunty rocky number.
The Penultimate number Southern Accents has the feel of a ballad and is autobiographical and is the glues that holds the music together the tones with a Southern Accent. Closing out the debut album with Long Gone two songs where Allman’s voice dominates. Long Gone is a song that feels personal and connects to you as the listener then as you think it is going to be a slow ballad the rhythms, tones and textures blossom like a cactus flower in the desert. The band leaves us with a song that is a celebration of the collective talents of the band as Betts voice picks up the lyrics. We are now singing a Betts Allman duet that can only be improved by hearing the number live on stage.
The album is a tonal and textural essay in moods, a study of the interaction of vocals and guitar the interconnection of instruments without losing the power of the words being sung. Making the sound both modern and unique and at the same time recognisable. The music created on Down To The River is timeless.
Is this a sublime debut album meeting our high expectations? Do The Allman Betts Band achieve this? Yes, they do… most definitely. All that is left for you to do is add this album to your collection, listen to it late at night, during the day the music will shape your mood and bury itself deep in your musical soul.
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
- All Night
- Down To The River
- Autumn Breeze
- Good Ol’ Days
- Melodies Are Memories
- Southern Accents
- Long Gone
The Allman Betts Band
Devon Allman – Guitar, Vocals
Duane Betts – Guitar, Vocals
Berry Duane Oakley – Bass, Vocals
Johnny Stachela – Guitar, Vocals
John Ginty – Keyboards
R Scott Bryan – Percussion, Vocals
John Lum – Drums
Special appearance – Chuck Leavell – Keyboards
Recorded at – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Muscle shoals
Produced by – Matt Ross-Spang