Review: Devon Allman – Ragged & Dirty

Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 2, 2014


Devon Allman – Ragged & Dirty

(Ruf Records: RUF 1205)

With Devon Allman having a legendary father and uncle, in the form of Gregg and the late Duane, it is no wonder that his music is making a lot of folk sit up and pay attention at the moment. Since he formed Honey Tribe in 1999 in St. Louis, he also played with Spanish guitarist Javier Vargas, before becoming a member of the ‘supergroup’, Royal Southern Brotherhood – which was formed during JazzFest in New Orleans. Following on from the band’s launch he released his Ruf Records debut, “Turquoise”, with this new release, “Ragged & Dirty” bringing the story up to date.

For this latest album he left the South and headed up to Chicago to record with some of the city’s top players with the music produced by the award-winning and in demand Tom Hambridge, who also contributes drums and background vocals. The rest of the core band comprises of Felton Crews (bass), Giles Corey (guitar) and Marty Sammon (keyboards), who with Hambridge are the perfect foil for Allman’s superb, fluid guitar and soulful voice – which is just getting better and better.

The 12 songs on “Ragged & Dirty” feature a mix of original songs, some co-writes with Hambridge and three covers – a mix of blues, soul, rock, funk and more – all sounding superb due in no small measure to Tom Hambridge’s production skills. The music roars into action with the tough “Half The Truth” and features some snarling guitar leads and the following “Can’t Lose Them All” is a real funky affair, underpinned by some classy Hammond B-3 from Marty Sammon, with a delicate Santana-style solo from Devon Allman.

The Spinners hit “I’ll Be Around” fits like a glove for Allman’s soulful vocal, with Wendy Moten on background vocals – a standout  number for sure. The album’s centre piece is the long and brooding instrumental, “Midnight Lake Michigan”, which at over nine minutes sees Allman’s expressive guitar work ‘howling’ and again sparring with Sammon’s B-3 and piano. It is followed by the thought-provoking “Ten Million Slaves”, penned by Otis Taylor, and it is driven by the powerful rhythm section of  Felton Crews and Tom Hambridge.

The title cut is the late Luther Allison’s “Ragged & Dirty”, and it rides on a funky guitar and keyboard groove that is most appealing, with another powerful vocal performance from Devon Allman, with a fluid, biting solo. The pace is taken right down for the final track, with just Allman on vocal and acoustic resonator guitar and Hambridge’s drums keeping the driving beat on this simple country blues tune . . . a lovely end to a most highly recommended release.


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