Musician: Devon Allman

Publisher: RUF RECORDS


I admit, I'm a bit behind the curve on this one. In 2012, I became a huge fan of Royal Southern Brotherhood featuring vocalist/guitarist Devon Allman, vocalist/percussionist Cyril Neville, guitarist Mike Zito, bassist Charlie Wooten, and drummer Yonrico Scott. A royal brotherhood indeed. Neville, for example, is an alum of The Meters and the Neville Brothers. Devon Allman, if you didn't know, is the son of Gregg.

Then, in Feb. 2013, Allman put out his first solo album, Turquoise, and I somehow missed the press release. I'm caught up now and, if you're like me, you'll be very glad to meet Devon Allman on his own terms.

The bottom line is: while Devon wasn't originally a musician especially interested in his Southern blues/rock heritage, he ultimately found himself diving deeply into the forms that made his family a household name. Now, he shines on three levels. First, he sings in a lower register than his dad, as demonstrated on songs like the acoustic "Time Machine" where his soulful delivery is very evocative of Michael McDonald. Second, this guy knows his guitar. He can do gentle acoustic work as on the instrumental, "Yadira's Lullaby." He can jam on the electric, as on the album's opener, "When I Left Home" and his remake of Tom Petty's "Stop Draggin My Heart Around," where he shares vocal duties with Samantha Fish. Third, 10 of the 11 songs on Turquoise are originals, which means Allman has something to say. (Two songs were co-written with RSB brother Mike Zito.) Most of his lyrics are clearly autobiographical. For example "Homesick" and the gentle closer, "Turn Off The World," are about a weary singer who wants to wash off some of that hard driving rock and roll.  

The collection includes a variety of musical settings mostly relying on the support of RSB band mate Scott on drums and bassist Myles Weeks. Slide guitar by Luther Dickinson adds to "When I Left Home" (speaking of autobiography). Other tracks feature Ron Holloway (sax), Bobby Schneck Jr. (guitar), and Rick Steff (Hammond B3 organ). Altogether, it's a tour of the south with the reggae-flavored "There's No Time" reminding listeners of Carlos Santana and "Strategy" is a touch of New Orleans smooth jazz.

All in all, Turquoise should please fans of the Allman family in particular and Southern blues/rock in general. True, it's a low-key debut, not as fiery and tight as

RSB, but this only means we have much to look forward to.

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