Widespread Panic

Don't Tell the Band

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As the years roll by, Widespread Panic refine their artistry impervious to trend or fashion. On their seventh album, the veteran ensemble settles into a groove within the first few seconds and never lets up through 12 tracks that burn with roots rock, Latin, jazz fusion, grunge, melodic folk, and soul. Displaying more polish than previous releases, each musician shines on this collection that gives fans what they come to expect from one of the best jam bands to emerge after the demise of the Grateful Dead and the decline of the Allman Brothers Band. Up in the mix from start to finish, Dave Schools' irresistibly funky bass anchors "Big Wooly Mammoth" and "Imitation Leather Shoes" with staccato figures and crispy riffs. John Herman and Michael Houser solo with the delicate urgency of Bill Evans and Carlos Santana, respectively, especially on the opening cut, "Little Lilly." Domingo Ortiz and Todd Nance propel the tunes with polyrhythms and multiple percussive textures that subtly embellish each melody and chord change. Vocalist John Bell croons, growls, and raps while waxing poetic about personal relationships and astute observations of the world around him. The hooks on "Sometimes" recall the tunefulness of 1970s AM radio, while the country-blues of "Old Joe," the title track, and "Down" slip on like a comfortable pair of old cowboy boots. The members of Widespread Panic are pros and they reap the benefits of longevity with a jewel of an album.

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