This one ought to make their daddies proud. The sophomore offering from the Allman Betts Band encapsulates and embraces the Allman legacy without slavishly copying the sound of their parent company. Recorded at Muscle Shoals, the session is steeped in Southern soul. Devon Allman kicks it off vocally with “Pale Horse Rider,” a spaghetti western soundtrack strained through an Allman Brothers filter with Allman’s and Duane Betts’ guitars commingling on the leads.
“Carolina Song” feels like Tom Petty fronting the Black Crowes with Duane Allman poking his head in to sprinkle a handful of blazing licks on top while Susan Marshall and Reba Russell coo soulfully in the background.
Betts steps up on lead vocals for “King Crawler,” a rockin’ wiggle fest that sounds pried from the Stones catalog with a spot-on Bobby Keys impersonation from former Gregg Allman Band sax man Art Edmaiston.
Betts wrote and sings lead on “Ashes of My Lover,” another Tom Petty-ish offering with Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall guesting on harp. Betts just started singing in front of people about six years ago, but with encouragement from Allman and the band as well as the success of the hit “Shinin’” that he sang lead on from the band’s 2019 debut offering, Down to the River, he’s ready to open up more.
And if you were looking for some jam to spread around, the band obliges with Betts’ 12-minute instrumental “Savannah’s Dream,” allowing everybody to take a leisurely stroll around the studio.
But the composition “The Doctor’s Daughter,” a co-write from Betts, Allman, bassist Berry Oakley, and singer-songwriter Stoll Vaughan, shakes things up considerably. The lineup trades off equipment, with Oakley switching over to piano and singing lead with Allman debuting on bass for a track that feels like George Harrison rose up for the occasion and sauntered over to sing and play guitar with the boys.
This is The Allman Betts Band’s best offering yet, showcasing a band still tethered to their legacy but their own way with a sound that honors their roots without stepping all over them.