Tue 11th March 2008
So, this is the long awaited (by me at least) new album from The Black Crowes. I confess at the outset to being an unashamed fan, thinking that they have pretty much done no wrong in the entirety of their recorded output. So, do they continue to impress? Well yes and no really.
The first thing worth mentioning is the album title and artwork. The title 'Warpaint' and a maurauding posse of characters make up the album cover. This had me expecting something rampaging and rocking, at least within the limits of the Black Crowes own style. There are many recognisable elements for the initiated, not least the vocals of Chris Robinson who is on fine form. But this is not particularly rocking fayre. In fact this seems less like a Black Crowes album and more akin to Chris Robinson's solo output. The instrumentation, song structures and themes seem to be a continuation of his work on 'New Earth Mud' and 'This Magnificent Distance'. This in itself is not a bad thing in my eyes as those are both very fine albums but, I was expecting a "Black Crowes" album.
Once I'd adjusted my expectations this album has really started to impress. Although they're dealing with some sad themes lyrically there's a laid back, underlying happiness to most of the tunes. There's liberal use of piano and harmonica along with the mainly acoustic guitar. If you haven't already heard and liked the Black Crowes then there's little chance this album will hook you in (try 'Amorica' instead) but, there is plenty to please existing fans of their more mellow moments. I guess it should be applauded that they've obviously made an album of music that they wanted to make rather than trying to recapture the "Black Crowes" sound. I can't help thinking though, that this is not really the great return that it could have been. I guess we'll have to wait for the next one.