For all his recent solo ventures, Rich Robinson clearly misses making music with the Black Crowes. The Magpie Salute connect to his old band in more ways than its avian moniker, the nine-headed collective feeding from the same riffy traditions of blues, soul and gospel.
Crowes watchers will already be familiar with What Is Home and the Amorica nugget Wiser Time, though here they morph into hairy jams that showcase the new ensemble’s feel for old-school southern idioms.
Ex-Crowes Marc Ford (guitar) and Sven Pipien (bass) are aboard too, as is their former keyboardist, Eddie Harsch, who passed away last November. The latter’s contributions, in what turned out to be his final recorded work, are a fine testament to his abilities, particularly on the piano-driven cover of Bobby Hutcherson’s Goin’ Down South and the jazz-blues crossover that is War’s War Drums.
They often evoke The Band, most explicitly on a reworking of The Basement Tapes staple Ain’t No More Cane, another live favourite from the Crowes’ repertoire.
The newly minted Omission, co-written by Robinson and lead singer John Hogg, and the only tune not recorded before a studio audience in Woodstock, is a blues rocker with a heavy groove that suggests the Magpie Salute have a bright future indeed.