The 10-song set, recorded in Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio near Austin, Texas, with regular cohort Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar co-producing, finds Haynes determinedly mining an R&B approach steeped in influences from Stax, Muscle Shoals and Memphis' Hi Records.
"My first love was soul music," Haynes tells Billboard.com. "The first sound I can remember having an effect on me was black gospel music coming over the radio in North Carolina. James Brown was my first musical hero, then the Four Tops and Temptations, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave. Somewhere along the way I heard Ray Charles and B.B. King.
"So (soul) has always been there for me, and I've waited a long time to really put that across on an album. I just thought it was time to make that sort of record."
In fact, Haynes says that some of the songs on "Man in Motion" date back quite a ways -- 20 years for "Real Lonely Night," and 10 for "Your Wildest Dreams." "Through the years I compiled a few song that wanted to be captured this way," Haynes notes. "I'd resigned myself to thinking someone else would wind up recording them other than myself, but then this project came about." The album also includes a cover of Stax singer William Bell's "Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday."
Haynes recorded "Man in Motion" with an all-star band that includes several New Orleans musicians -- Meters bassist George Porter, Jr., keyboardist Ivan Neville and drummer Raymond Webber -- as well as Austin-based keyboardist Ian McLagan, singer Ruthie Foster and tenor saxophonist Ron Holloway. "It was the exact band I wanted for the record. Everybody that was first on my list was available, and we made it work," says Haynes, although he had not met McLagan before the sessions.
"Ian was a last minute add-on that Gordie suggested," recalls Haynes, who played a variety of vintage hollow body guitars in addition to his usual Gibson Les Paul on the album. "He was thinking (McLagan) would add a cool vibe, like a soul-music version of the Garth Hudson-Richard Manual thing in the Band. And it freed me up to take more of a B.B. King role, singing and playing fills. I played a little more rhythm than, say B.B., but I wasn't having to think that way all the time. We set up in the studio with everybody looking at each other and recorded live, which is what we love to do."
Haynes debuted the band at his annual Christmas Jam during December in Asheville, N.C., and he's eyeballing a tour that will start in April, most likely in Australia, and run throughout the summer. Terrence Higgins will be on the drum stool, while Neville and Foster are up in the air at the moment.
Meanwhile, with Gov't Mule taking "a well-deserved break," Haynes is also gearing up for the Allmans' annual March residency at New York's Beacon Theater, which begins March 10. "Everybody's excited to get back in," Haynes reports, adding that he's still waiting on details of a summer tour that Gregg Allman has predicted will also happen this year. "I think everybody would like for there to be one," Haynes says. "But Gregg has a record out. I've got a record coming out. So does Derek (Trucks). Getting all the schedules together is not easy, but if we can get it together it'll be great."
Here is the track list for Warren Haynes' "Man In Motion":
"Man in Motion"
"River's Gonna Rise"
"Everybday Will Be Like a Holiday"
"Sick of My Shadow"
"Your Wildest Dreams"
"Real Lonely Night"
"A Friend to You"
"Take a Bullet"