Warren Haynes

Warren Haynes
Man in Motion

Stax (B004R0MF34)

By David Hayward
September 2011

As the autobiographical title cut in Warren Haynes’ much-anticipated solo album explains, he’s a man in constant motion: “...a fire burning/a storm passing through.” From beginning to end in this superb collection of original rhythm and blues, Haynes strikes up each song with a fiery musical idea, fans the flames with interesting chord progressions, sparkles the arrangements with instrumental and vocal surprises and burns the dance floor with unstoppable momentum.

Ever since Warren Haynes simultaneously toured with the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and his own Government Mule band a few summers years ago, he justifiably earned the moniker “Iron Man.” A consummate and inventive jam-band soloist, heavy-duty blues/rock writer and gruff singer, he can out-do, out-last and even out-macho his legions of peers. But in Man in Motion, he is transfigured and, without sacrificing any of his virtuosity, has honed his blues/rock hard edge into a soulful, danceable and singable set of songs that deserve wide appeal.

All the cuts are superb examples of composition, orchestration and lyricism: hooks, grooves, key changes, solos and vocal refrains that return to reinforce the moral of his story. And above all, Haynes is an ensemble player, which makes this a balanced and satisfying listen (again and again). He’s leading the musical ideas that propel each song, but he doesn’t show off or dominate. He allows his fellow band-mates to shine as soloists and in duets and trios within the larger group.

There is a rich blend of guitar, bass, drum, organ, piano, horn section and back-up vocals. But it’s never crowded.

Like the album title, each song keeps you in motion - and each new song moves you along in a different way:

  1. Man in Motion An autobiographical, wah-wah guitar-driven song with surprises that you can shake a stick at.
  2. River’s Gonna Rise You’ll be singing the harmony refrain with this bayou tom-tom groove.
  3. Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday Motown Meets the 21st Century. And another infectious refrain.
  4. Sick of My Shadow Feelin’ Alright groove meets Joshua Redman sax meets Stevie Wonder clavinet with entirely original bridge.
  5. Your Wildest Dreams Wilson Pickett is surely smiling about this one.
  6. On A Real Lonely Night Masterful R&B. Just when you think you know where the hook is going, Haynes takes the song in a most unexpected delightful direction.
  7. Hattiesville Hustle Autobiographical, infectious three-chord country grunge with tuneful breaks.
  8. A Friend to You Life’s losses and hard lessons painted in a bittersweet and ultimately uplifting tone color.
  9. Take A Bullet A wholly original take on the classic Midnight Hour/Space Cowboy bass-line with yet another sing-along refrain.
  10. Save Me destined to be Hayne’s signature, heartfelt ballad even rivaling his “Soulshine.”

A “must-be-in-your-record-collection,” Man in Motion once again earns Warren Haynes the industry’s Iron Man reputation, but this time it’s for composer, instrumentalist and vocalist.

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