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Free Somehow

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Editors’ Notes

What does a Widespread Panic fan wish for each time the veteran jam band releases a new album? A sustained flash of the sonic alchemy they achieve on stage and Free Somehow (2008) fares well by this standard thanks to Terry Manning’s vivid production and the more integrated presence of recent guitar recruit Jimmy Herring. In the past, the band has released uneven albums with limited appeal beyond Panic’s hardcore faithful. This time, singer/bandleader John Bell digs deeper and draws more blood, particularly with his songwriting. He works well with extremes, leaping with wide-eyed agility from the trashy boogie-strut of “Boom Boom Boom” to the mournful country-rock of the title track. Equally vital is the improved ensemble work captured on roaring work-outs like “Flicker” and “Walk On the Flood,” as well as on more textured excursions like the jazzy “Angels On High” and the disquieting “Dark Day Program.” The band’s extended flights rarely lose altitude here, with the ornately orchestrated “Her Dance Needs No Body” achieving particular brilliance over its eight-plus minutes.

Customer Reviews

Good Production, Less Than Stellar Tunes

Long time Panic fan. This ranks towards the bottom of their catalog, if not the bottom. I'm giving these songs a chance and there are a few here that are OK, but everytime I get into a song and think this song is pretty good something comes along and shoots that idea down. I was looking forward to the first album with Jimmy Herring, but this is a huge disappointment.


From the first listen through of Free Somehow all I can say is Jimmy Herring brought the heat on this album. I was never a big fan of George McConnell's style with Panic and have been waiting for this album since 2006 when Herring joined the band. McConnell's a great guitar player, but I think Herring is a better fit for the band. Herring's solo in Angels on High shows his diverse guitar skills. JoJo's playing on Three Candles is on key. Great album from start to finish.

The New Edtion of Hot Panic!

Well, from first listen WSP has added yet another strong album to the discography! The revolving door of players that the passing of founding guitarist Mikey Houser brought to Panic's history is bittersweet. BUT, with the now year plus old addition of Jimmy Herring... Has sparked that lingering lead guitar sound yet again! Thank you Panic for Keep On Keepin' On!


Formed: 1985 in Athens, GA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the many neo-hippie jam bands inheriting the road-warrior mantle left behind by the Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic established a devout grassroots following on the strength of constant touring and a loose, rootsy brand of Southern rock informed by jazz and blues textures. The group's origins date to 1982, when vocalist John Bell and guitarist Mike Houser first began playing together while attending college in Athens, Georgia. When bassist Dave Schools left academia to join the duo the next...
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