Review Summary: The first Gov't Mule album in four years doubles the fun, as the second disc features guest vocalists re-interpreting each song.
Gov't Mule is mainly known for being two things: an Allman Brothers Band offshoot formed by guitarist Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, and for being a mainstay of the jam band circuit. Every few years or so, Haynes gets the itch again and revives the Mule to record new material, and in the case of album #10, Gov't Mule ups the ante by offering a second disc of guest vocalists re-recording each track, with Gov't Mule acting as their backing band. It's an interesting concept, and I hope it catches on.
If you've listened to Gov't Mule before, you'll know what to expect. Shout! is an album rife with 70's flavored hard rock and the occasional blues/soul/r&b/funk/reggae influence. Many of the tracks creep well past the six minute mark, which provides plenty of opportunities for each member of the Mule to showcase their talents. Warren Haynes is the obvious bandmaster, as his vocals and guitar playing are at the front, but the three other members of Gov't Mule are talented in their own right. Matt Abts has been the drummer from the beginning, and he shows off the ability to drum in several different styles well. Jorgen Carlsson is a good bassist, while Danny Louis serves as the multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, guitar, trumpet, etc). Haynes, as usual shows why he is criminally underrated as a guitarist. His solos are often bluesy and steeped in feeling instead of fretboard-frying technicality.
The album begins with the swaggering opener "World Boss" (sung on disc 2 by Ben Harper) and of the two different vocals, personally I prefer Hayne's more reserved vocal on the original. "World Boss" is a great opener, and one of the hardest-rocking tracks here. Other immediate highlights from the album is the funky "Stoop So Low" (sung with absolute aplomb by the legendary Dr. John on disc 2), the smoky "Whisper In Your Soul" (which Grace Potter takes hold of and seductively makes her own on disc 2), and the bluesy "Done Got Wise" (Myles Kennedy's performance far outshines the Haynes original on this particular track). Many of the guest vocalist tracks on the second disc were re-arranged slightly to make them shorter, but "Stoop So Low" actually tacks on an extra minute. Haynes is a capable vocalist, but the idea to invite friends to re-record the vocals as their own borders on genius as it allows many of the songs to gain a different feel.
This album may be a snooze-fest for those who wants instant gratification because Shout! is an album packed with epic-length tracks that explore different emotions and musical territories from start to finish. It harkens back to the 60's and 70's, when many albums were stuffed to the limit with music. If you like Gov't Mule, you'll love this ***. If you haven't listened to it, I ask you to give it a chance. Shout! may just surprise you.