Review | Gov’t Mule – Peace…like a river

Fantasy Records

Gov’t Mule was working on two records at the same time and that is not a very common manner of producing and recording music. While recording their much-heralded album ‘Heavy Load Blues’ in a small studio in the evening and nightly hours, during the normal work hours of the day the group worked on ‘Peace…Like A River’. In a different room in the same studio. Talking about going the extra mile….


Are there a lot of similarities between the two albums? Well, yes and no. Band leader/guitarist/ singer Warren Haynes, drummer Matt Abts, keyboardist Danny Louis and bass player Jorgen Carlsson (who has been replaced by Kevin Scott earlier this year) have put a lot in both albums. They flirt with several styles and influences but always managing to put ‘The Mule’ stamp on things. Both albums are playful but ‘Peace….Like A River’ is more contemporary and rocks harder but also has elements of classic rock, southern rock,  funk, country blues, spoken word and several songs feature horn sections and orchestral pieces.

There is even a bit of reggae to be heard on the very moody song ,,The River Only Flows One Way’’ with actor Billy Bob Thornton delivering the lead vocals in the form of spoken word. To be brutally honest about this track…. It does not really fit with Gov’t Mule.


While ‘Heavy Load Blues’ is a pure blues album, ‘Peace…Like A River’ is more in the style that we are used to hear from Haynes and Company. Opener ,,Same As it Ever Was’’ is about the problems during the pandemic. Here Warren delivers one of his best vocal performances ever. ,,Shake Our Way Out’’ features ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and the interaction between Haynes and the Beard is just breathtaking indeed. ,,After The Storm’’ is a sort of a band jam with a great structure where also Danny Louis on his organ has a big role.

Variety is one off the key elements of this new album by Gov’t Mule. Several songs (like the very ‘quiet’ track ,,Just Across The River’’) need a bit of time to sink in but in the case of this formation that is no surprise at all. The musicians of Gov’t Mule have never ever chosen for the easy listening stuff and their songs just demand your full attention and take time to settle. This time it is no different.


I am not sure if ‘Peace…Like A River’ will go down in history for me as the best work The Mule has ever delivered as albums like ‘Life Before Insanity’, ‘Dose’ and ‘Deja Voodoo’ (to name a few) and Haynes’ solo-album ‘Tales Of Ordinary Madness’ are absolute gems, but one thing is for sure and that is that ‘Peace… Is Like A River’ has some incredible and subtle moments, being among the finest in their long career. The band will be embarking on a world tour soon (dates in The Netherlands and Belgium in November).

Release date: June 16, 2023



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