"Evergreen" is a little heavy on the Robinson's dippy hippy imagery and the chorus is inferior to the verses but the song is pleasant. "We Who See The Deep" is also a little heavy on hippy rhymes but is backed by a massive riff from the school of Keith Richards and Jimmy Page. Robinson morphs into a cross between John Lennon and Robert Plant on the psychedelic-tinged "Movin' On Down The Line." None of these songs are awful nor do they distinguish themselves. Dickinson's playing feels less prominent on this group of tracks, relegating them to listenable but not memorable status.
Rich Robinson gets things fired back up again with a stomp-and-groove riff on "Wounded Bird." Robinson's riff reinvigorates Dickinson, whose slide is once again a force. If only Steve Forman would lay off the seizure-inducing cymbals during the last minute of the song. That prolonged Alex Van Halen-styled aggravation makes my heard hurt. Despite that, "Bird" rocks hard and kicks the album back in gear.
They follow that with a cover of "God's Got It." It's not revelatory in any way but it's not bad listening. Dickinson's sting transforms to lyrical when he swaps his electric guitar for an acoustic on album closer "Whoa Mule." With a Duane Allman-like touch, Dickinson's work in effect becomes a second lead vocal and gives the song a wonderful life, closing the album on a high note.
Chris Robinson's poetry isn't always pretty and one gets the sense he is trying to be poetic and profound, perhaps trying a little too hard at times. His reach sometimes exceepds his grasp but when he and his cohorts get their fingers and hearts around an idea and a groove, they make music that stands proudly among the songs that have obviously so inspired them.
Maybe the conclusion to draw isn't that The Black Crowes are derivative of bands from yesterday but that they were just born at the wrong time, that they are playing a brand of music too many critics grew up on and are too eager to freeze in time. Maybe it's time to stop thinking of them as a contemporary band ripping off vintage music and instead see them as a vintage band for modern times.