Devon Allman's Honeytribe

Space Age Blues

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Space Age Blues is the first Honeytribe recording since 2006; it is also, according to leader Devon Allman, a loosely scripted concept album where "Darth Vader meets B.B. King." Allman is not only a blues guitarist of some acumen, but a science fiction fan as well. His idea was to take a musical look at the way we relate to technology, examine how much of it has become inseparable from our lives, see what works and what doesn't, and try to encourage humanity to connect with something organic that is bigger than ourselves. But it's the music itself that matters, and Space Age Blues mostly succeeds. Its opening cut, the funky wah-wah and distortion-laden "Could Get Dangerous," features Allman in fine form, especially as he trades licks with Huey Lewis' harmonica (Yes, that one). George Potsos' bassline provides a big fat undercarriage that's highlighted by Gabriel Strange's drum kit. As fine as Allman's playing is, however, Lewis steals the track. The title cut, "I'm Ready," and "Take Me to the Bridge" derive as much from Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys collaboration as they do blues. The soul-blues of "Salvation" suffers a bit from Allman's limited vocal range, but is compensated for by Ron Holloway's emotionally expressive tenor saxophone solo, which in turn spurs an inspired guitar break from Allman. The other place his voice lets him down is on an otherwise fine reading of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" -- the band nails it musically and the groove is enough to compensate for the vocal lack. "Endless Diamond" is a big-riff minor-key blues with a funky backbeat and hypnotic bassline. "Blue Est le Vide" is a mostly instrumental acoustic guitar number that changes the pace a bit. Album closer "Insh'Allah" (an Arabic term that translates as "God willing") is a knotty psych-rock jam band exercise. As musically forceful as this set is, the tunes here will likely come off more explosively live. Fans of Honeytribe's Torch album and those hard rock-blues aficionados unacquainted with Allman's considerable gifts as a guitarist will find much to celebrate on Space Age Blues.

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