July 2008

The Black Crowes - Warpaint
Silver Arrow Records (no catalog number)
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Warpaint is the first studio release in seven years from southern roots rockers the Black Crowes, and it’s with open arms and eager ears that we can once again get down to their swaggering sound. Long hiatus aside, the boys are back with aplomb, dropping this rock'n’roll bomb featuring ten original tracks and one gospel gem by Rev. Charlie Jackson, "God’s Got It." The Crowes’ sound has beefed up and branched out over the years, and while they’ve had their share of membership rotation, the core remains virtually unchanged: brothers Chris and Rich Robinson on vocals and guitar, ex-fired (now re-hired) bassist Sven Pipien, with drummer Steve Gorman still smacking the skins. New to this album are keyboardist Adam MacDougall and North Mississippi Allstars guitarist/southern young one Luther Dickenson. The latter addition is cosmically suited, his electric guitar squealing perfectly alongside the Crowes' veteran-rocker sound.

"Walk Believer Walk" is chunky and bass heavy, with sassy, soul-fused vocals. "Locust Street" and "Oh Josephine" both have a Stones-meets-Dead sound, while "Movin’ on Down the Line" is good ol’ country funk. The guitars and keys leak sustained sound, bleeding true red, white and blue, while the bass and drums rock with heavy resonance.

While the first half of the album is decidedly stronger than the second, it all grows together with multiple listens. Indeed, it’s hard to believe (and refreshingly impressive) that the band has been so long on the scene and can still release an album like Warpaint -- no slowing down, no selling out, no laurel-resting to be had.Give it a spin and give thanks -- the Black Crowes are back.