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In a curious musical twist, Warren Haynes, the 23rd-greatest guitarist of all time according to Rolling Stone, practically ignores his guitar and instead pours out his heart in "Save Me." A compelling, self-penned cut, the song is a highlight from Man in Motion, the new album from the Allman Brothers alum and Gov't Mule co-founder.
The 51-year-old Haynes wrote the song at a low point in his life: A relationship had ended, and he'd just moved to a new city. An empathetic organ sings backup behind the piano's sturdy chords, conjuring up David Ruffin's grand, gospelized Motown single of 1970, "I'm So Glad I Fell for You." On occasion, Haynes offers a subdued and mournful guitar riff, but the song's focal point is his plaintive voice, tinged with despair yet still harboring a hint of hope. Along the way, he asks questions of either a wandering lover or the Lord he'd abandoned: "If I needed you, would you come to me? / If I was lost, would you comfort me?"
Clearly influenced by generations of soul music, Haynes sings words sung by many a soul star before him, but he doesn't come off as a poseur or a play-actor. Instead, he sounds like a humble disciple, laid bare as he issues a simple, honest, emotive plea.