The Black Crowes

On Warpaint, their first studio release since re-forming in 2005, the Black Crowes show how a little time off from each other can work wonders. Warpaint continues to improve the band's winning brand of Southern-fried power blues-rock, as opener "Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution" and "Movin' on Down the Line" gallop from the speakers like the charging horses on the album cover. Meanwhile, "Oh Josephine" and "Locust Street" are lush, elegant ballads.

Vocalist Chris Robinson's lyrics remain their usual combination of poetically obtuse and hippily hopeful. Although with their talk of stealing out by moonlight, fucking in the sunshine, and setting your mind to fly, clunkers "Evergreen" and "Wounded Bird" are a little too heavy on the flower power. The frontman's fascination with religious imagery also continues on the strident, urgent "Walk Believer Walk" and Warpaint's only cover — a raucous, holy-roller version of Rev. Charlie Jackson's "God's Got It." Meanwhile, the combustible, slide-strewn sound of new lead guitarist Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi All-Stars) provides a fresh sounding board for rhythm guitarist and co-songwriter Rich Robinson. Old West cautionary tale "There's Gold in Them Hills" is one of the finest moments on any Crowes record, and Warpaint might finally silence critics who insist on throwing out those lazy Stones/Faces/Band comparisons the Crowes have long since outgrown.


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