Gov't Mule Deja Voodoo

Gov’t Mule is an interesting entity within the Southern jam rock realm of the mainstream music industry. Not only has the group endured the death of founding bassist Allan Woody, but front-man Warren Haynes plays lead guitar in both the Dead and the Allman Brothers Band, leaving Gov’t Mule by the wayside frequently to focus on the other projects. Thankfully, with ex-Black Crowes bassist Andy Hess and keyboardist Danny Louis hired on as new full-time members and Haynes finally given some free time, the soulful clouts of crunchy Southern blues rock are back with yet another studio offering, Deja Voodoo. Despite the new youthful exuberance following the band, Deja Voodoo is a mixed bag at best, showcasing the quartet at their absolute best and vulnerable worst throughout the 70-minute disc. Haynes’ soulful lead guitar work and trademark passionate vocals work well with the organ-esque twang of Louis, but Hess is barely audible throughout the disc and overall, Deja Voodoo falls flat in bringing forth the emotive bluesy crunch that the Mule are so good at creating. Louis adds an exciting freshness to their classically refined sound, but the thematic inconsistency of the compositional approach catalysts the downfall of Deja Voodoo, turning from what could be a brilliant masterpiece into an average attempt at combining Southern rock with crunchy blues. Still, there is potential here. As the band continues to come into their own as a collective, these songs will provide the perfect blueprint for experimentation because with a talent like Gov’t Mule, practice will surely make perfect. (ATO)