Warren Haynes: Ashes and Dust Review

Ashes and Dust is the latest solo release from long-time Allman Brothers band member and notable guitarist Warren Haynes. The album begins with the “Is it Me or You,” a track with heavy feeling and powerful chords, this song begs for the answer to an otherwise meaningless heartbreak. “Coal Tattoo” begins with a deep-rooted bluegrass influence, an effect that is augmented with the creeping addition of the fiddle; Haynes produces some brief, but solid solo work in this narrative about a hapless miner. “Blue Maiden’s Tale” is Haynes’ most atmospheric track on the record. An almost waltzing instrumental introduces this tale whose ambiance and slowly revealing lyrics amount to an approximate ghost story.

Telling the tale of a marginalized man, “Company Man” follows a downtrodden, exploited worker with a sympathetic, moaning guitar. “New Years Eve” spotlights a whiskey drinking character enjoying a glass of fine, barrel-aged regret to the accompaniment of a reflective melody. Another song for the drinking man, “Stranded in Self Pity” has a roadster attitude, but still finds a cast of sorrowful characters, setting the scene for a bar by the train tracks where every sip of a whiskey sour represents a moment’s more distance between the beaten man and the engine hauling away his dream. “Glory Road” continues the wistful tone of the album, chronicling an up-and-down tale of damnation and fortune.

A sterling example of a well-executed cover song, Haynes’ collaboration with Grace Potter on the Fleetwood Mac tune “Gold Dust Woman” allows both performers to shine immeasurably with equal attention devoted to Haynes’ empathic groan and Potter’s hollow croak. “Beat Down the Dust” is Haynes’ statement on the privileged history of white America and “Wanderlust” finds love on the road. The theme of Ashes and Dust is further elaborated on with the track “Spots of Time,” a tune speaking to the hopeless impermanence of memory. “Hallelujah Boulevard” evokes an evening of dying lanterns, an evening of tattered souls fighting invisible, but powerful devils. After teasing salvation, “Word on the Wind” offers the listener a prayerful hope for paradise.

Warren Haynes’ latest effort is a modern take on the blues rock genre and elevates his more than proficient guitar playing in a way that complements his thoughtful lyrics.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

–  Is it Me or You
– Blue Maiden’s Tale
– Company Man
– Stranded in Self Pity
– Gold Dust Woman

The Big Hit

– Stranded in Self Pity

Review by McKinnie Sizemore

Buy the album: Amazon

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