With the death of Gregg Allman a few years ago, the career of The Allman Brothers Band officially came to an end, but that hasn't stopped the offspring from continuing on in their father's footsteps. Back in 2018, Duane Betts (son of Dickie) went out on tour with the Devon Allman Project (Devon is the son of Gregg), and that worked out so well that the two started writing together and decided to make it a full-time gig and call up Berry Oakley Jr. (son of Berry) to join in on the fun. The trio are joined by Johnny Stachela (guitar), John Ginty (keyboards), R Scott Bryan (percussion), and John Lum (drums), and we now have the birth of The Allman Betts Band and their debut album Down to the River. Keyboards on the album were played by Peter Levin and Allmans alumni and current Rolling Stones member Chuck Leavell.
Consisting of eight brand new compositions and one cover, Down to the River was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and produced by Matt Ross-Spang, all of which has helped give this debut a very 'classic' sound right from the start with the crisp, rootsy rocker "All Night". This one is sung by Devon, and it's safe to say that both he and Duane have certain similarities in their vocal styles to their fathers, so you can easily tell them apart here. "Shinin'" is up next, a catchy slice of Southern Rock with plenty of lead guitar harmonies from the trio, slide guitars, acoustic guitars, and sumptuous grooves, easily one of the more 'Allman Brothers-sounding' tracks here. "Try" is another hook laden number with smoldering Hammond organ and tasty guitars, blues colliding with country for a formula that has plenty of hit potential, while the title cut sees the band churning out some atmospheric blues rock, Devon's vocals husky & confident, sinewy lead guitars permeating the arrangement alongside some nice organ from Levin. At nearly 9-minutes long, "Autumn Breeze" is one of the albums more jammy tunes, Duane delivering a great vocal performance as the lead guitars soar in classic Allman Brothers style, a tune that should become a highlight of their live set. "Good Ol' Days" again sees the band dip into some countryfied blues, the hooks again ever present, and "Melodies and Memories" could almost be the long lost sibling of the Allmans classic "Blue Sky", full of charming Betts vocals, roaring guitars and smokey Hammond. The guys do a great cover of Tom Petty's "Southern Accents" with Devon on the vocal, basically piano and slide guitar, and the album closes with "Long Gone" a tender blues number with both Allman and Betts on lead vocals, layered with acoustic guitars, Hammond, and searing lead electric guitars. A great track, and fantastic way to close out the album.
The more you listen to Down to the River, the better it gets, the melodies & hooks keep grabbing you while the fine instrumental passages seal the deal. This is a talented band with a lot to offer, and while they surely capture the spirt of their father's legendary outfit, they also bring their own identity to the table in a big way. Whether you like classic Southern Rock, jam, roots rock, and blues with a bit of country, you'll find plenty to enjoy here on this first outing from The Allman Betts Band.
1 All Night
Down To The River
Good Ol' Days
Melodies Are Memories
Long Gone 6:32