Gregg All­man says good­bye with heart, soul

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - MUSIC - By Scott Stroud

“South­ern Blood,” Gregg All­man’s farewell al­bum, veers deeply into part­ing sen­ti­ment, but it also re­minds us of what a sin­gu­lar tal­ent we just lost when he died in May.

Farewell al­bums from mu­si­cians who know they are dy­ing have be­come a thing of late. And All­man’s just might be the best of them.

“I hope you’re haunted by the mu­sic of my soul when I’m gone,” he sings on “My Only True Friend,” the only song he had a hand in writ­ing. The lyric feels too lit­eral, but soon the singing and play­ing that made All­man great tran­scend any maudlin ten­den­cies.

With “South­ern Blood,” All­man serves no­tice one last time that he earned his place in the count-them- on-one hand set of white singers who could belt the blues from within.

Pro­duced with ten­der care by Don Was, him­self a stu­dio leg­end, the al­bum soars with ar­range­ments built to spot­light All­man’s singing. The McCrary Sis­ters and Buddy Miller sit in on sev­eral cuts, in­clud­ing a bril­liant, horn-in­fused ar­range­ment of “Black Muddy River.”

On the fi­nale, Jack­son Browne’s “Song for Adam,” All­man chokes up when he sings, “It still seems that he stopped singing in the mid­dle of his song.” Was said All­man thought then of his brother, Duane All­man, whodied at 24 at the peak of his power.

Maybe so. But he could have been mulling his own fate, too — and the knowl­edge, proven with gusto on his last record­ing, that he still had plenty to give.

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