Southern rocker Gregg Allman‘s final album Southern Blood (Rounder Records) may not be the bluesiest he’s done (which would have been a difficult undertaking following his 2011 solo studio offering Low Country Blues), but will certainly be remembered as his most personal and evocative, featuring 10 carefully chosen tracks that reflected the Rock Hall of Famer’s mindset during the waning months of his life, from the opening, autobiograhical “My Only True Friend” that Allman co-wrote with his band’s guitarist and musical director Scott Sharrard about life on the road — with such chilling lyrics as “I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul when I’m gone” and “Still on and on I roam, it feels like home is just around the bend/ I’ve got so much left to give, but I’m running out of time, my friend” — to the soulful country folk sound of Bob Dylan’s “Going Going Gone” (“I’m closing the book on pages and text, and I don’t really care what happens next/ I’m goin’, yes I’m goin’, I’m gone”) — one of several songs to feature Greg Leisz on pedal steel, Buddy Miller on harmony vocals, and The McCrary Sisters on powerful backing vocals — to the tender closing cover of Jackson Browne’s “Song for Adam” on which Browne himself joins Allman on vocals, with Leisz contributing on both pedal steel and mandolin.
Album producer Don Was writes in the liner notes: “The choice of songs for this record said everything that needed to be said…it’s the musical last testament of one of the greatest artists of our time. Everything you need to know about Gregg and how he felt at the end of his life is contained in the lyrics to these 10 songs and in the raw and expressive approach he brings to these last performances.”
As touching as much of the album can be, including that bittersweet terrific opening track, it’s probably “Song for Adam” that strikes the most poignant chord, about which Was observed: “Gregg always loved this song because it reminded him of his brother Duane. When he gets to the line ‘still it seems that he stopped singing in the middle of his song’, you can hear him choke up and falter. We decided to stop for the day, and Gregg never got the chance to actually sing those next two lines.”