Arriving just a little over a year after an eponymous live album, High Water I is not only positioned as the first official studio album from the Magpie Salute, but as the initial installment of a two-part album. It's an auspicious beginning for a group led by two Black Crowes guitarists, but the Crowes always showed some measure of ambition, slowly expanding that ambition along with their musical horizons. High Water I doesn't find the Magpie Salute stretching out so much as embracing everything that Rich Robinson and Marc Ford already considered theirs, anchoring themselves on a Southern-fried rock that allows them to indulge in flower-powered country-rock, crunchy blues, back-porch picking, even a bit of funk. Apart from a creeping Lenny Kravitz-ism, all of this sounds very much like the Black Crowes, with new singer John Hogg nailing the Rod Stewart inflections of the absent Chris Robinson. On this level alone, High Water I will satisfy those fans who have been missing music that sounds like the Crowes -- it's much bolder and simpler than Rich Robinson's appealingly rambling Flux, for instance -- but it's also true that the Magpie Salute don't attempt to do much here but hit their mark with precision.
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