Gov't Mule Life Before Insanity (Capricorn)

SXSW Records

Gov't Mule

Life Before Insanity (Capricorn)

Gov't Mule's intent on Life Before Insanity is to splash studio texture on their live-based group improvisation. The trio, Matt Abts on drums, Allen Woody on bass, and Warren Haynes on vocals and guitar, is fundamentally a live band, and Life Before Insanity, their second studio release and fourth album overall, expands the band's artistic palette, adding both players and instruments. In contrast to 1998's Dose, the band lets themselves overdub in the studio, with more emphasis on melodic development and less on group fireworks. Great idea. The result, however, is less so. Woody's mandolin on the title track should propel the song along, but due to its low mix profile, comes across like a last-minute addition. Still, the track has a killer riff that carries it way past ordinary, and coming after the powerful opener "Wandering Child," creates a firm one-two intro punch. Having Ben Harper cameo with Haynes on "Lay Your Burden Down" is a guitarist's dream, but while the song rolls along, it never takes off -- never reaches the pairing's potential. On the plus side, ending the packed 74 minutes is a bonus track, a raw, slide-fueled roadhouse rendering of Robert Johnson's classic "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day." Maybe next time live-in-the-studio? (Friday, Mar 17, Scholz Beer Garten, 1am)

** 

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