On Disc: Widespread Panic

Album: Free Somehow

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Free Somehow by Widespread Panic

Widespread Panic
Free Somehow
Widespread Records

3 stars

While most bands go on tour to support their albums, it’s clear that Widespread Panic does things the other way around.

The jam-band veterans’ latest effort, Free Somehow, is a collection of long-winded southern jams written for the stage, not the studio.

Most songs are solid, but the album feels like a cast recording for a much more impressive live performance. The studio can be limiting to live-oriented bands and Widespread Panic is a bird not meant to be caged.

Free Somehow opens with the muddy up-tempo single “Boom Boom Boom” before moving into seven-minute snoozers “Walk On The Flood” and “Angels On High.” Singer John Bell’s dreary vocals slip into a musical coma and songs are only resurrected with energetic guitar work.

“Dark Day Program” is easily Bell’s most interesting vocal performance on the album. The soulful closer “Up All Night” " complete with a gospel choir and horn section " ends the album on a high note.

Free Somehow is a half-decent album and worth a listen.

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