Peace…Like a River counts as Gov’t Mule’s twelfth studio album, and it’s one of their most complex. The first cut, “Same As It Ever Was” contains an emotive opening riff as the song travels into jazz territory. The past, present and future serves as a recurring theme through these songs. Haynes sings on the opener:

“Now is the time…was there ever any other?
Looking back at all we’ve wasted–
One good thing that we’ve discovered
It’s time to make up for all you’ve lost
Years and friends that you can’t get back
Those things are gone forever–but memories never die
There’s nothing stopping you now
There probably never was…”

“Shake Our Way Out”, a hard-rocking number featuring ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons on vocals and guitar does not disappoint. These tunes evoke an old-time rock-n-roll aesthetic where no tricks or machines replace instruments or skill. Drummer Matt Abts shines on the drums as he has done throughout the band’s career.

“Made My Peace” a low-bottom dirge highlights the keyboard talent of Danny Louis who adds melodic texture and a wide range of musical direction to these compositions. These well-crafted tunes conjure a spectrum of moods and images along with Warren Haynes’ signature guitar tone like on “The Peace I Need”, which sounds like the Mule of old. It reminds me the first time I saw the band live in Atlanta, Georgia, during 1995, when Captain Allen Woody played bass. They made an unforgettable impression…

“Your Only Friend”, a slow burning acoustic guitar-laced ballad, emits a sad undercurrent as Haynes sings: “Are you still the victim?/Is that your lame excuse?” “Dreaming Out Loud” showcases Ivan Neville and Ruthie Foster on vocals for this funky number with a punctuating horn section.

“Head Full of Thunder” sounds like something from the first two Free albums. No fluff. It’s a standard old-school Haynes rocker. On “The River Only Flows One Way”, Billy Bob Thornton delivers the cinematic lyrics in spoken word form on this reggae-ish gem that evokes the timeless spirit of Colonel Bruce Hampton.

“After The Storm” streamlines funk and blues like only Gov’t Mule can muster. Celisse Henderson contributes vocals on “Just Across The River”, which sounds like a cross between Little Feat and The Meters playing some New Orleans musical recipe. 

The STAX Records-sounding “Long Time Coming” would make Albert King proud. The final cut, “Gone Too Long” (dedicated to David Crosby) contends as one of the finest songs on this album. Another beautiful Haynes guitar riff flows through this number as he sings “There’s a light shining on an open door/And a heart that’s warm and true/Chasing my shadow has never let me down/Long as it leads me back to you/Gone too long.”

The bonus edition of this album includes the EP Time of the Signs. Overall, Peace…Like a River emerges as one of Gov’t Mule’s finest moments.