Devon Allman

Ride Or Die

(Ruf Records)

As any rational human being should really be, Devon Allman cares about the Earth and his fellow Earthlings, but does not let his fears and concerns taint his music with the negative. The search for complete freedom led Devon to end his fruitful association with Royal Southern Brotherhood and move on. I last spoke to him about the terrific album he made in Chicago and found him thoughtful, knowledgable, courteous. Here now, with renowned producer and here drummer Tom Hambridge aboard he also features Tyler Stokes on guitars and Steve Duerst on bass along with other talented cats. Allman has written all but two of the selections.

Starter cut Say Your Prayers has powerful drums and dark fuzz guitars introducing an impassioned vocal .His voice is really distinctive these days, almost a country Bob Seger, you could say. The savage wah guitar smacks in @2:30. It’s quite catchy, too ; Find Ourselves takes a steady tempo and sax riffing to create a reflective lyric on choices to make. Galaxies has a snakey beat and Hendrixy guitars chopping away and maybe the best singing on this set. Only needs Samantha Fish singing along, but hey Ruf that must be fixable?

Lost has purposeful acoustic guitar and Devon in softer, folkier voice but still sounding persuasive. Hambridge knows not to overpower the number on the drums. The TalkBox – I have an original ! – is more Alice In Chains than Peter Frampton. On to Shattered Times which is an album highlight, all restless wahs and firm singing, with rolling Hammond in the mix, too. But for the vocal tone this could be a nod to the great Curtis Mayfield. And that’s a compliment, Devon! Watch What You Say is taken a solemn tempo as Allman issues a warning and gives us a hard-edged guitar solo.

The ringing guitars intro to Vancouver has a pinch of Neil Young and funnily enough the song construction isn’t a million miles from Neil. The low-register greasy sax is a good touch. I like songs with this airiness and intent. Pleasure & Pain has a fine directness and definition it jumps out as an album high, lovely electric piano and sharp all really communicates and has a gorgeous melody. Undoubtedly my favourite song on this release. Hold Me has a rolling New Orleans vibe about it and is easy on the ears without being throwaway, more a cool balance for the collection. Live From The Heart uses emphatic acoustic guitar and organ to get under away before taking shape as a solid folk-rock song, slight delay on the vocal helping the ambience.

Butterfly Girl takes us to the back porch and a conspiratorial vocal, country fiddle keening in and out. Then final song A Night Like This presents Devon’s take on The Cure of all acts! The dense and doomy sound has an almost New York tread to’s the Velvet Underground drumming, Tom! Allman sings a bit like Martin Fry of ABC, curiously enough and maybe he should try their Poison Arrow?

This record has great guitar playing BUT that’s not the reason for its existence, it’s a memorable set of proper songs. Maybe that’s just what Allman intends, I will ask him.

Pete Sargeant

(Thanks to Golly and Devon)


Devon Allman's new studio album 'Ride or Die' is out now on Ruf Records. 

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Devon Allman