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.
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’.” Allman steeped
the album in his own history, recording with producer Don Was in Muscle Shoals,
Alabama, where Allman and his brother Duane recorded in the late
Sixties. And while the LP is almost entirely covers, they spool by as one vivid
benediction, from Allman’s gorgeously soulful reading of Bob Dylan’s “Going,
Going, Gone,” to his gently swaying version of the Grateful Dead’s
meditation on aging “Black Muddy River,” to tender folk reckonings by
his friends Tim Buckley and Jackson Browne. Allman opens with an
original, the searching blues “My Only True Friend,” sung as a
conversation with Duane. “It feels like home is just around the bend,”
he sings, the elegiac sound of gracefully moving on.