BY TOM CALLAHAN
Devon Allman is an excellent musician in his own right. He did not meet his famous father, Gregg, until he was 16 and was raised in Texas, not Georgia, by his mom, who, by the way, was not Cher, but Shelley. And with one previous album for Ruf and as a founding member, along with Mike Zito and Cyril Neville of the Royal Southern Brotherhood, Allman has toured the world and won a Blues Music Award last spring as a member of that band.
But as with Cyril, who is as close to musical royalty as anybody from New Orleans can get, Allman knows that you cannot escape your DNA. With his dirty blond hair, he looks a bit like his dad, and he is a damn good guitar player, the nephew of the legendary Duane Allman, yet does not play slide. He has his own distinctive soulful vocals, yet every now and then, the echo of his famous dad creeps in.
He would not be the first musician in history to capitalize on a famous name, but in Ragged and Dirty Allman delivers an album that, while not denying his family’s roots in the blues, is an original work of its own.
Produced by Granny winning producer Tom Hambridge, who wrote four songs, and recorded in Chicago, this is a modern blues album, incorporating a lot of blues styles, not just the American south. The best cut is a song written by Allman called “Traveling” where his guitar captures a perfect swamp blues sound. Another highlight is a slow, nine minute blues featuring Allman’s wailing guitar called “Midnight Lake Michigan.” “Can’t Lost “Em All” opens with a bit of an “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” riff. Add in excellent covers of songs by Otis Taylor, The Spinner’s and Chicago’s own blues great, Luther Allison, and you have a highly entertaining album.
Whether with RSB or on his own, Allman is going to have an interesting future. Ragged and Dirty is worth listening to and “Traveling” will fast become an essential part of your musical library. The song is that good.
DOWNLOAD: “Traveling” “Ten Million Slaves” “Back To You”