The sixth Black Crowes record begins with "Midnight From the Inside Out," a feedback-riddled jam that never achieves liftoff. You fear that our neoclassic rock heroes have abandoned the boozy, supercharged verve of 1999's By Your Side and retreated into the listless psychedelia of 1994's Amorica. Hey, not so fast: "Lickin'" sports a lowdown groove, a leering vocal from the newly married Chris Robinson ("Now down there like a mule I'm kickin'/Girl, you gonna catch a lickin'") and a clipped riff from his bruh Rich. The Crowes know what their home strengths are. "Come On" suggests the Faces wanting to take you higher. But the heart of Lions lies in the best ballads the band has ever waxed, such as the Led Zeppelin III-esque "Soul Singing" and the churning "Losing My Mind." Can it be that the domesticity that ruined the band's role models is now giving the Black Crowes a new creative life? Can high-octane rock & roll and blissful valentines co-exist? Apparently so.
- The Black Crowes
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