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Gov’t Mule “High and Mighty” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Gov’t Mule stands out as one of those bands that are recognizable by name to many but are truly appreciated by a select sect of music fans. Historically, I do not find myself in that particular segment however, and often I have found myself making possibly unjust associations between the band and jams bands; along the lines of My Morning Jacket or Widespread Panic. I’m sorry, that’s just the way things seemed to turn out. When exploring the band’s new album, High & Mighty, and the history that accompanied it, a few interesting points stand out. Studio records are a sort of anomaly for the band, as history has proven an undeniable affection for a catalogue heavy on live recordings. The inspiration? Warren Haynes and Allen Woody filled in as members of The Allman Brothers band, Haynes as the second replacement for Duane Allman and Woody as the bassist. In such a tradition comes a southern hard rock album fueled with just enough tease at jam to satisfy true fans. Or so I presume.

The album’s lead single and opening track “Mr. High & Mighty” blasts as a solid classic hard rocking piece. With too many chords to be an AC/DC song, yet too hard to be considered pure jam and too old a cast to be considered a reinvention of a younger class of blues-rockers such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the song rings odd. While it is by far one of the select choices on the album, it is far too similar to a lot of mid-90’s rock that bled into jam as the decade ended.

“Brand New Angel” continues a hard rock vibe and has a variety of points on it that continues to risk continued association with such heavier sounding themes. Through this song, the album’s second, scarce organ and overpowering guitar begin to find harmony and the album melds together as evidence showcasing the band’s talent rather than a throwback to dated sounds previously hinted at.

High & Mighty moves on with gracefully with the track “Child of the Earth” which resolves itself as a shining glimpse of what the band is capable of before the album continues with a wash of reused anthems. One distinct exception to that comes with the track “Nothing Again,” an eight minute dub jam that rings with unique overtones that overwhelms the otherwise alike songs on the album. With it Gov’t Mule shows how the band has aged with such a strong foundation that there is little that can change it while, at the same time, an eight minute dub track isn’t out of the question.

High & Mighty is a powerful throwback to a lot of what was overlooked and missed as fashionable rock weeded out its classic rock influences and slow brooding, bluesy solos. Gov’t Mule is one such band that flirts with a variety of strong tracks which serve to help rejuvenate this often overlooked sound that has seemingly been forgotten.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]