Gov't Mule ‘Shout!' (Blue Note)
It must take some kind of tall artistic fearlessness to put out a double-disc package of new material with Disc 1 containing your own versions of your new songs, and Disc 2 featuring some of the most gifted players in the business offering their own interpretations.
On “Shout!,” Gov't Mule's first studio album in four years, frontman Warren Haynes is running the risk of being outdone on his own stuff by the likes of Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Ben Harper, Toots Hibbert, Glenn Hughes, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Myles Kennedy, Dave Matthews, Grace Potter, Ty Taylor and Steve Winwood.
Example: Opening track “World Boss” is a hip-shaking cosmic R&B workout in the hands of Haynes and company. Meanwhile on Disc 2, Harper's highly polished, groove-centric funk 'n' soul is tight and competent but does little to improve on the Mulish original. So, Haynes is safe there.
However, Dr. John's growling vocals and swamp-rocking voodoo guitar and organ take on “Stoop So Low” has a certain gator-sharp bite that the Mule's model just doesn't achieve. And Potter brings the kind of dead-on, deeply-needed woman's touch to the steamy and heartfelt, slow-tumbling love rock ballad “Whisper in Your Soul” that the macho Mule just can't whip into shape.
Certainly, Costello's lo-fi, rapid-fire cover of “Funny Little Tragedy” is the best track on the album. This song is a fresh, glistening pop-rock salad-bar island of sound in a sea of overcooked, familiar-tasting musical meat.
For the most part, “Shout!” is a well-crafted blues-rock album from Haynes that makes for pleasant if less-than-challenging listening, and he's been pretty careful not to let the guest artists' covers top the source material he's created. To his credit, he's been good enough to front the latter-day Dead and the Allman Brothers Band, maintaining the established quality levels of those groups as well as his own.
— Gene Triplett