By Al Kaufman
Most band members aren’t exactly known for their academic intelligence. Make it a bluesy, southern rock band and the odds are even greater. Make it a good southern rock band and it’s a pretty safe bet that Dirty Guv’ners is the only such band. Sporting five Master’s degrees and a Bachelor’s, these Guv’ners are clearly smarter than many actual heads of state. They’re also a hell of a lot more soulful.
Justin Guip, who won a Grammy for his work on Levon Helm’s Dirt Farmer, and also engineered Black Crowes’ Before the Frost/Until the Freeze, was the perfect fit to produce Youth Is in Our Blood. The Guv’ners sound like a reincarnation of the Crowes, with frontman James Trimbel serving as a Chris Robinson sound-alike. You can hear his southern swagger on songs such as “Baby We Were Young,” “We’ll Be the Light” and “Come Walk With Me;” the latter including the bravado line “Come inside and love me for the man I am/Before I walk away.”
The Guv’ners nicely meld their southern-fried rock with some smatterings of country and gospel, and always a good helping of soul. Many of their ballads (perhaps one or two too many) give way to powerful guitar solos at the end, most notably on “Wide Awake,” which includes spiraling, Allman Brothers-like axe work. Other solos, such as that on “Courage,” go on a minute or five too long.
But “It’s Dangerous,” with its horns and building guitars, grows into what is sure to be the perfect concert closer, leading the listener to pure salvation.
The CD ends with a few too many ballads, with the Guv’ners perhaps a bit too cerebral to want you to believe they’re nothing more than boasts and brags. They still stick to bluesy rock subject matter, such as love and redemption, but it would be nice if they could have kicked out the jams one last time. ‘Cause, mister, when they do, them jams don’t know what hit ‘em.
Dirty Guv’ners play Smith’s Olde Bar on Saturday, January 15.