The Black Crowes, Warpaint

The Black Crowes, Warpaint

By hook, crook, and sideways handshakes, I got a copy of this record just a few days before its official release date. I was biased going in — I had a grudge against the Crowes from the last time I saw them live with their beards and their jam-laden, meandering odysseys. And now their stingy hands weren’t willing to send out any promo copies for press reviews; could it get much worse? Once I’d landed my copy, however, I ended up forgiving them. In fact, I thank them.

I fear Rock & Roll’s death from one day to the next. Some might say that it’s already gone cold, and I’m just a fool still in mourning. And yet, records like this make a body twitch and shudder with just a bit of life. For myself, it’s a salve for a cynic, but perhaps just a (not-too-small) relief. A bit of relief is better than no relief at all, even if it seems a little late in arriving.

“Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution,” the lead track, is a typical Black Crowes strut, with steel guitars, bottleneck slide, moans and cries, and clever innuendos. Oh, it’s great to hear these sounds tapping you on the shoulder and whispering to you. The Crowes have always had a good lyrical strength, and it still shows throughout.

“Walk Believer Walk” is the second cut, a swampy blues number droning with dark imagery and gospel hope. The name kinda gives it away, don’t it? Its appeal, however, goes on for about 1:30 too long. Likewise, “Evergreen” and “We Who See the Deep,” in its psychedelic way, take the same, l-o-n-g stroll down a country path and are not back in time for supper. But with Southern charm and grace, guitar hot-licks and timeliness, they’ll charm you right back. “Thanks, ya’ll!”

Tender moments abound, like “Josephine,” “Locust Street,” and “There’s Gold in Them Hills,” with dulcimers, mandolins, pianos, and teardrops. Chris Robinson’s voice shows incredible honesty and a rawness that I forgot he’s capable of. I begin to wonder if there’s some sort of confession going on here…but we’re here for my own healing, not for Chris Robinson’s.

There’re no tricks, or lies, or apologies with Warpaint. It’s honest, sad, cocky, and undoubtedly 100% American rock n’ roll. There’s enough slide guitar, country leanings, soulsy bravado, and whiskey-soaked swagger here to scare those frowning, angular-haircut emo kids — or, at the very least, bring more of them to repentance and belief. I wouldn’t say it’s everything for everybody, but it stakes its own claims and owns up to its own deeds. If you miss a bit of the old rock & roll, it’s a well-needed dose.

(Silver Arrow/Megaforce Records -- P.O. Box 1955, New York, NY. 10113; http://www.megaforcerecords.com/; The Black Crowes -- http://www.blackcrowes.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, March 4th, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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