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Gov't Mule

Despite solid songwriting, burning fretwork, deep grooves, and an earnestly dark outlook, Warren Haynes and company can't seem to achieve liftoff on Voodoo, the group's first studio release since the loss of bassist Allen Woody. The retooled four-piece, which puts on intriguing live performances, serves up a mostly lackluster collection of tunes that wants to soar but remains stranded on the runway. Still, Haynes' power-rock-inspired spirit floats throughout and even hints at greatness on the 11-minute "Silent Scream," the hook-laden "Lola Leave Your Light On," and the organ-driven "My Separate Reality," a cut that resonates with the kind of bluesy yearning and soulful wistfulness that keep the 44-year-old roots-rocker in the spotlight. The misfortune here is that it takes a whole album just to get warmed up.

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Nick Hutchinson

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