Release Date: Sep 8, 2017
Record label: Rounder
With the appropriately titled Southern Blood, Gregg Allman becomes another member of a tragic shortlist; musicians who knew that the album they were recording would be their last. Whether it was Leonard Cohen, Chuck Berry or Warren Zevon, there can.
It’s there, at just about the one-minute mark of Southern Blood’s opening track, a tender voice calling out: ‘I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul when I’m gone. ’ Whether the decision to begin the album with My Only True Friend was made before Allman’s death in May is unknown, but it serves as the most perfect curtain-raiser for a record that celebrates an oft-overlooked musician with elegance and style. Six years on from the Grammy-nominated Low Country Blues, it’s a comfort to Allman’s fans that it should all end on such a high, quality control being a primary consideration when a man of his age (69) and deteriorating health from liver cancer could be forgiven for just phoning it in with a weary, “Will this do?”.
The final album by Gregg Allman, who died in May, is a moving farewell statement à la twilight masterworks by Leonard Cohen and David Bowie. "I know I'm not a young man, and it's time to settle down," Allman sings on the roadhouse blues "Love Like Kerosene," his full-moon growl strikingly undiminished. Yet while Southern Blood is rich with intimations of mortality, it's easygoing too, with a laid-back generosity that recalls Allman's kindest Seventies work – see his warm take on Lowell George's Southern-rock salvo "Willin'.