Gov’t Mule: By A Thread




Gov’t Mule’s By A Thread might be the closest thing we ever get to a modern day Warren Haynes solo effort (unless rumors of such a project from the last few months turn out to be true.) Every individual element of style favored by the guitarist/vocalist/songwriter is covered within the album’s hour-plus running time, which might make for a splintered sound except that his connection to Gov’t Mule as a group is absolutely unyielding. And vice-versa.

This recording’s title might refer to the infinitesimal degree of separation between the work of an single artist and that of a full-fledged unit. As cleanly captured by producer Gordie Johnson, Gov’t Mule wouldn’t work so well if keyboardist Danny Louis, drummer Matt Abts and newly recruited bassist Jorgen Carlsson were merely backing Warren Haynes. The dual-structure  of "Inside Outside Woman Blues #3" , for instance, would be rote self-indulgence rather than catharsis if this was not a  unified quartet. Likewise, the similarly-structured changes of "Scenes From A Troubled Mind" wouldn’t work so effectively if the  four-piece were not in sync with each other as well as Haynes.

The intelligence Gov’t Mule’s frontman  displays in his composing as well as his playing comes to the fore on the subdued "World Wake Up." Haynes’ pondering on the state of the world might sound precious were it not for the stately gait of the band as they enter–hear Carlsson signal himself with a high note run–or the fact this track appears after ten other cuts where dirty Texas blues like the opener "Broke Down on the Brazos" (with ZZ Top’s guitarist extraordinaire Billy Gibbons) appears alongside "Forever More," a ballad with an acoustic foundation that sounds like nothing so much as an Elizabethan folk ballad (with  references to Edgar Allan Poe to boot!)  Warren Haynes makes his real statement as a member of Gov’t Mule, foregoing pompous pronouncements in favor of cogent observations: "Logic fails/Greed prevails/It’s not too late today…" By A Thread thus further’s the credibility of the band, individually and collectively.

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