Gov’t Mule: Peace…Like A River Review

There are very few rock bands as unique as the Grammy-winning Gov’t Mule. Formed in 1994 as a collaboration between guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody, members of The Allman Brothers Band at that time, the group soon turned into a discernible force itself, becoming one of the most celebrated acts in the world of roots-oriented rock.

Famous for their iconic blend of rock, blues, soul, and jazz and their improvisational, jam-band nature, The Mule has been consistently delivering compelling sonic landscapes both in the studio and live since then. Currently comprised of drummer Matt Abts, keyboardist Danny Louis, bassist Jorgen Carlsson, and led by Haynes, whose gloriously battle-worn voice and vibrant guitar tone remain as impressive as ever, the band now releases the studio full-length Peace…Like A River.

Recorded during the pandemic at the same time as Heavy Load Blues (2021), Peace…Like A River is a continuation of sorts of Revolution Come…Revolution Go (2017) in the sense of message and themes. And unlike Heavy Load Blues, which is a work more restrained within the confines of the blues, Peace is an album that expands towards various genres and approaches, as is most characteristic of the band. Lyrically, it deals with personal matters and relationships with a background of recent world events.

Built on a folky foundation, “Same As It Ever Was” opens the album. Alternating between quieter acoustic moments and more effusive electric passages, it features excellent organ and guitar interplay. Next, we have the bluesy heavy rocker “Shake Our Way Out.” Featuring none other than Billy Gibbons, the song marches at a steady mid-pace, capitalizing on sledgehammer riffs and the added flair of Gibbons’ world-weary, macho-like vocals.

With the competent rhythm section providing a firm base, the nine-minute epic “Made My Peace” includes a nice touch of ’60s psychedelia coupled with some solid piano progressions and exuberant guitar parts. Being the album’s most emotionally-charged moment and especially benefiting from the extra nuance provided by the string section, the ballad “Your Only Friend” is contrastingly pure southern rock delight.

Then, there is “Dreaming Out Loud,” a funky, soulful workout featuring the R&B heroes Ivan Neville and Ruthie Foster as additional vocalists. Containing fantastic organ and horns and a huge-sounding, sing-along chorus, the song is no lightweight affair. Also featuring an additional lead vocalist in the up-and-coming Celisse, “Just Across The River” is a mid-paced, reggae-infused stomp with a strong, anchoring bass line and infectious vocal parts.

Concluding the record, “Long Time Coming” is another funky beast, strolling with swagger and packing some contagious Stax-styled horns, while “Gone Too Long” is another heartfelt southern rock ballad.

Notably, despite the predominating longer-than-usual song length, the album never gets lost in pointless pyrotechnics or overstays its welcome. The instrumental excursions are tightly-focused and serve the songs, covering everything from psychedelia and riff-driven blues rock to funk and soul with concise finesse.

With Heavy Load Blues being my favorite album of 2021, my expectations for Peace…Like A River were quite high. To merely say that they have been met would be an understatement. Boasting sharp songwriting, tight arrangements, and stellar musicianship, Peace…Like A River is excellent and ranks among Gov’t Mule’s best works. Highly recommended.

The Review: 9.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Same As It Ever Was
– Shake Your Way Out
– Made My Peace
– Your Only Friend
– Dreaming Out Loud
– Just Across The River

The Big Hit

– Made My Peace

Buy the album: Amazon

Fidel Beserra

Fidel Beserra is a professional translator and an occasional writer. As one would expect, he's also an enthusiastic lover of everything music-related.

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