Ragged & Dirty
Ruf Records 2014
Review by David Bowling
Sometimes it’s not who you know but what genes you share. And so it is with Devon Allman who is connected to a father named Gregg and an uncle named Duane. He may not have grown up with his father or met his uncle but he certainly inherited the music genes that run in the family.
Now in the third decade of his career, he has to be one of the busier musicians working today. He continues to front Honeytribe, the band he founded, as well as touring and recording with the super group The Royal Southern Brotherhood. In addition to his band affiliations, he has now about to release his second solo album titled Ragged & Dirty.
For the first time in his career, Devon left his southern comfort zone behind. He traveled to Chicago and not only used musicians from that city but had Grammy winning producer and songwriter Tom Hambridge on board as well. Hambridge was a wise choice as the production is impeccable and he co-wrote four of the 12 tracks.
Devon’s music and original compositions have always been rooted in the rock and blues that have been associated with The Allman name. “Leave The City” is a stripped down affair featuring only Hambridge’s drumming supporting his guitar and bluesy lead vocal. The nine minute instrumental “Midnight Lake Michigan” proves that he can hold his own on an extended track with an improvisational feel as his guitar thunders and wails. Many times it is a slow blues piece that defines an album and so it is with the slow-building “Back To You.”
The title track is a Luther Allison composition, which is now taken in a funky direction due to a thumping bass line by Felton Crews. Hambridge’s “Leavin’” finds him making each note crystal clear in a precise performance. It is interesting to hear him and additional vocalist Wendy Moten transform the Spinner’s “I’ll Be Around” from soul to blues.
Devon Allman has established an identity firmly rooted within a rock and blues fusion sound. Ragged & Dirty is his latest stop along a career path that was set in place at birth.