Renowned quartet GOV'T MULE — led by Grammy Award-winning vocalist, songwriter, guitar legend, and producer Warren Haynes — has announced its first-ever blues album, "Heavy Load Blues", and released the first original track off the forthcoming collection, "Heavy Load". The ominous acoustic blues number is highlighted by Haynes's mournful vocal and supple yet deliberate riffing. "Heavy Load Blues", due out November 12 via Fantasy Records, encompasses an even mix of Haynes's originals and revered covers originally made famous by the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Junior Wells, Ann Peebles, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and even Tom Waits and THE ANIMALS. To coincide with the album's announcement, GOV'T MULE has released a behind-the-scenes video of the making of "Heavy Load Blues".
"Heavy Load Blues" is available for pre-order now at all DSPs. Each digital pre-save will include an instant download of the song "Heavy Load". Physical CDs and vinyl are also available for pre-order now from the band's webstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and local record stores. A deluxe edition featuring additional studio and live tracks, including another Haynes original and covers originally by Savoy Brown, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush and more, will also be available.
"For me, personally, it's kind of been on my list of things to do for years," shares Haynes. "I didn't know if it was gonna be a solo album or a GOV'T MULE record. We play some traditional blues on stage from time to time and although it's usually never more than a few songs per show, our approach to the blues is unique and based on our collective chemistry as a band." He adds, "This album gave us a mission. Although in some way it was 'anything goes,' we wanted to stay true to the spirit of the blues in a traditional sense. It's not a blues/rock record — it's a blues record. We wanted it sonically to sound different from a normal GOV'T MULE record."
Though technically considered a studio album, "Heavy Load Blues" was recorded live in the studio at The Power Station New England on analog tape, utilizing vintage guitars, amps and other equipment to capture an authentic sound. The 13-track album was produced by Haynes alongside engineer and co-producer John Paterno (Michael Landau, Robbie Williams, THE STEVE GADD BAND).
One of the many standout tracks is the Junior Wells standard "Snatch It Back And Hold It", which allowed the band to freely cover a classic while sandwiching a spontaneous jam called "Hold It Back" in the middle of a soulful, stirring interpretation that was given a decidedly funky groove. In that regard, while several titles may sound familiar to blues enthusiasts, the band — Haynes, Matt Abts (drums), Danny Louis (keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals) and Jorgen Carlsson (bass) — often opted to put its own spin on them. "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home", originally recorded by Ann Peebles, is one of the few songs on the record the band has previously played live. On their version, Haynes's nimble guitar riffs are played out over a solid foundation of organ and rhythm, resulting in a kind of funk-like finesse. For the Howlin' Wolf song, "I Asked Her For Water, She Gave Me Gasoline", GOV'T MULE, who are known for pushing the parameters while melding a variety of genres — rock, R&B, jam, funk, jazz, and practically everything in-between, opted for a heavy, up-tempo and funky version that is a far cry from the original.
Leading up to the release of "Heavy Load Blues", GOV'T MULE will continue with their 2021 tour dates. The in-progress outing offers fans a variety of options to catch the road warriors, including co-headlining shows with TROMBONE SHORTY & ORLEANS AVENUE and dates on Willie Nelson's "Outlaw Music Festival" tour alongside Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, THE AVETT BROTHERS, and more, as well as headlining shows and other festival appearances.
Coming up later this winter, the band returns to Jewel Paradise Cove Resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica for Island Exodus 12, the ultimate "concert-cation" experience from January 16-20, 2022. Hosted by GOV'T MULE, who will perform three full two-set shows, and Warren Haynes, offering his unique, interactive "Q and Play" set, a hybrid concert performance and storytelling session, the multi-day experience will also feature intimate beachfront concerts from DAWES and THE WAR AND TREATY, who will perform multiple sets, and special guest Ron Holloway, who will present an extended afternoon "Sax On The Beach" set. Attendees arriving early for Exodus Eve on January 15 will see "RoHo" part of Melvin Seals & JGB + Ron Holloway's "Legion of Melvin" show.
"Heavy Load Blues" track listing:
01. Blues Before Sunrise
02. Hole In My Soul
03. Wake Up Dead
04. Love Is A Mean Old World
05. Snatch It Back and Hold It – Hold It Back – Snatch It Back and Hold It
06. Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City
07. (Brother Bill) Last Clean Shirt
08. Make It Rain
09. Heavy Load
10. Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home
11. If Heartaches Were Nickels
12. I Asked Her For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)
13. Black Horizon
Deluxe Version - Bonus Tracks:
01. Hiding Place
02. You Know My Love
03. Street Corner Talking
04. Have Mercy On The Criminal
05. Long Distance Call
06. Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home (Extended Version)
07. Need Your Love So Bad (Live)
08. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl with Hook Herrera (Live)
Photo Credit: Jay Sansone