By Martin Halo

Creating their finest piece of original material since the release of Amorica (1994), the Black Crowes’ internal turmoil has yielded a mature exhale of brilliance. Before the Frost… Until the Freeze, released on Silver Arrow Records on August 31, resides as the Robinson’s Physical Graffiti — a double album that in its entirety stands as an undeniable worthy career statement.

Rock n’ roll, rural twang and bluegrass hymnals round out 20 songs that cut to the heart of the Black Crowes matured groove. “Good Morning Captain,” slides over rocks, while “Been A Long Time (Waiting on Love)” touches upon Dylan hooks and rasp laden progressions. “Appaloosa” rounds out the introduction in ballad beauty.

Recorded live by Paul Stacey over the course of five nights at Levon Helm’s barn in Woodstock, New York the audible acquaintance is warm and familiar. Chris Robinson’s fables again cut directly to those a drift, searching for love and caught in a psychedelic wonderland. His influences bleed throughout every song. The Beatles, Gram Parsons and the Rolling Stones in a musical orgy.

“I Ain’t Hiding” and “Kept My Soul” bring the funk, before bowing to the grace of “Houston Don’t Dream About Me.” Luther Dickinson’s second Black Crowes recording finds the guitarist settling into a cozy tone behind Rich Robinson’s crunch-laden constructions.

But if I was really to pick a gem off this record it would come in its latter half. “The Last Place that Love Lives” is on the same soulful level as “Descending.” Beautiful melodies, six string compassion and sad woman cries propel its resonance to the forefront of the tracks. The Black Crowes have always been a live band in most peoples’ eyes but if there was ever a time that you needed to experience a group of artists tumblin’ through the culmination of their career essence, you need Before the Frost…. Chris Robinson has always set out to create his own Exile on Main Street, and this time around he might have just achieved it.

The Black Crowes
“Before the Frost…”
Silver Arrow Records
© September 1st, 2009 | Woodstock, NY