Album Review

Duane Betts - Wild & Precious Life

Dickey Betts leaves his son with a lingering legacy.

Duane Betts - Wild & Precious Life Album Cover
July 10, 2023 11:01 am GMT

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Duane Betts - Wild & Precious Life

Label: Royal Potato Family

Release Date: July 14, 2023

Producers: Duane Betts, Johnny Stachela and John Ginty

Tracklisting:

1. Evergreen

2. Waiting On A Song

3. Forrest Lane

4. Colors Fade

5. Saints to Sinners

6. Stare at the Sun

7. Under the Bali Moon

8. Sacred Ground

9. Cold Dark World

10. Circles in the Stars

It may seem a bit of a cliche, but the old expression “like father, like son” frequently rings true, particularly in musical realms.

One need only point to Rufus Wainwright, Lucas and Micah Nelson, Sean Lennon, Devon Allman, or in this case Duane Betts, as obvious examples of how lineage leads to careers.

In Betts’ case, his dad, Dickie Betts, apparently inspired him to follow in his footsteps. Two previous albums alongside Devon Allman in the Betts Allman Band proved his intention early on was to ensure that the family name would not only survive, but thrive.

Of course, it’s always a fine line between trying to emulate a certain sound and establishing one’s own identity. Lean too heavily towards the former, and you’ll face accusations that you’re simply aping an established template. Opting for the latter leads to inevitable expectations that the famous surname bears as part of its baggage.

In this case, it appears that Betts decided to situate himself between the two extremes. Wild & Precious Life, his first full-length album, follows an earlier EP - the expressively titled Sketches of American Music – that boasts a similarly sweeping banner and sound that will be instantly recognizable to the Allmans faithful following.

The vibrant guitar solos that illuminate ’Evergreen’, ‘Waiting on a Song’ and various other songs in the set recall the elder Betts’ signature song, ‘Rambling Man’, and the extended jams the Allmans executed with such deftness and precision. That element alone makes comparisons hard to avoid.

There are other connections as well. Berry Duane Oakley, son of original Allman Brothers bassist Berry Oakley, and the Allmans’ second-generation guitarist Derek Trucks, nephew of the band’s late percussionist, Butch Trucks, are among those playing a part in the proceedings.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny the fact that Betts possesses solid skills of his own. The easy sway of songs such as ‘Colors Fade’ and ‘Forest Lane’ possess a decided charm and innate appeal. ‘Saints To Sinners’ and ‘Cold Dark World’ are driving and determined, while ‘Stare at the Sun’ and ‘Circles in the Stars’ each offer a more reflective repast. The instrumental ‘Under the Bali Moon’, as its name suggests, provides a more exotic interlude.

Clearly, it will take more than this outing for the younger Betts to find his footing. Nevertheless, that Wild & Precious Life the title describes may be well within reach.

7/10

Duane Betts' 2023 album, Wild & Precious Life, is released July 14th via Royal Potato Family.

Written by Lee Zimmerman
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