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Since reuniting in 2005, the Black Crowes have released one live album (two, counting last year's Chris and Rich Robinson solo set, Brothers Of A Feather) and now one studio effort, Warpaint. It was debatable whether the band should have returned to the studio at all, as the fire and force the Crowes reliably exhibit onstage hasn't translated on record since the mid-'90s. But Warpaint suggests that the brothers Robinson simply needed time to regroup after hitting a wall with 2001's career-worst Lions. While it doesn't reach the gold standard of the Black Crowes' first three albums, Warpaint more than justifies the band's continued existence nearly 20 years after it emerged as an unapologetic anachronism specializing in British blues and Southern-fried blue-eyed soul. Brontosaurus-in-molasses stompers like "Walk Believer Walk" and "Evergreen" punch the band's rock card nicely. But Warpaint really distinguishes itself on the ballads—always Chris Robinson's secret weapon—with the gentle back-porch jams "Oh Josephine" and "Locust Street" finding the Black Crowes settling into middle age with surprising grace.


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