Duane Betts – Wild and Precious Life


Duane Betts - Wild and Precious Life

Duane Betts – Wild and Precious Life
Format: CD – Vinyl LP – Digital
Label: Royal Potato Family
Release: 2023

Like his father, Dickey Betts, Duane Betts dwells in the spaces between the notes, traversing the frets of his guitar to produce ringing arpeggios of sound and crystalline lead runs that echo long after he caresses each note.

He’s honed that skill for two decades as a member of Dickey Betts & Great Southern, co-founder of The Allman Betts Band, and a touring member of Dawes. On his debut solo album, Wild & Precious Life, Betts noodles up and down the neck of his guitar, providing lush soundscapes for his lyrics of loss and love, struggle and joy.

Betts and guitarist Johnny Stachela kick off the album’s opener, “Evergreen,” with dual guitars, launching the propulsive song about constancy in life and love into high gear from the start. While all of the tracks recall sonically many of the Allman Brothers’ songs — in this case there are echoing moments from “Blue Sky” —Betts takes those moments in his own direction and uses them in his singular way.

The rocker “Waiting on a Song” rambles down the road, layering phrase upon phrase and note upon note in the instrumental bridges, while the tender love song “Circles in the Stars” flows spaciously over currents of piano notes that provide the just-right counterpoint to Betts’ lead ornamentation.

The snarling blues rocker “Cold Dark World” features Marcus King and Betts trading licks against the backdrop of John Ginty’s wailing B3, and Betts’ tribute to his dad, “Stare at the Sun,” features Derek Trucks contributing scalding lead runs. (Trucks is, of course, another Allman Brothers progeny, the nephew of the late Butch Trucks, the band’s drummer.) The instrumental “Under the Bali Moon” recalls the sonic architecture of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”; it’s a slowly unfolding jazz rock jam that features tinkling, mystic piano supporting the layers of guitar work.

Wild & Precious Life secures Duane Betts’ place in the pantheon of great Southern rockers. His just-right-note guitar playing and his reflective lyrics fill the album with emotional resonance, creating high hopes for another album to come sooner rather than later.

Website: https://www.duanebetts.com/

01. Evergreen
02. Waiting on a Song
03. Forrest Lane
04. Colors Fade (feat. Nicki Bluhm)
05. Saints to Sinners
06. Stare at the Sun
07. Under the Bali Moon
08. Sacred Ground
09. Cold Dark World (feat. Marcus King)
10. Circles in the Stars