Concord RecordsLongtime Allman Brothers Band member Warren Haynes‘ new solo album, Ashes & Dust, arrives in stores today. The prolific singer-guitarist, who also fronts the group Gov’t Mule, is known for making music that focuses on extended jamming, but he says that this project “is more centered around the songs.”

Haynes, who recorded the 13-track collection with the neo-bluegrass act Railroad Earth, tells ABC Radio, “This record is a collection of songs that I’ve written — some brand new, some quite old — that I feel didn’t really fit into The Allman Brothers, didn’t really fit into Gov’t Mule. They’re just songs that I was waiting for the right time and reason to record.”

Warren explains that after collaborating with Railroad Earth live a number of times, he realized that the acoustic-based group would be the right accompaniment for him on Ashes & Dust.

“[The album is] very much coming from a singer-songwriter sort of direction, although there is a lot of guitar playing,” he notes. “My electric guitar juxtaposed against a lot of acoustic instruments — fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, banjo, acoustic guitar. So these are all songs that were written on acoustic guitar and, consequently, recorded and performed with that same kind of spirit.”

In putting together Ashes & Dust, Haynes says, “I just chose the 13 songs that seemed to tell a story and make a cohesive statement, and worked together the best. I guess the overall theme is just personal memories….All the songs are about real relationships or real people or periods in my life that are the most important, looking back.”

While Haynes says most songs on Ashes & Dust were a departure from his work with The Allmans Brothers, his old band actually had performed one of the tunes, “Spots of Time,” dozens of times live before they broke up last year. Warren co-wrote the song with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, who he says brought him a piece of music that he’d named after a concept featured in a William Wordsworth poem and asked Haynes to finish it. Warren says he proceeded to read the poem, titled “The Interlude,” and then “kind of interpreted it and what that meant to me and wrote the lyric and melody.”

Haynes tells ABC Radio that he’d thought The Allmans might record it for its final studio album; however, since the band split without making a record, Warren decided to include it on Ashes & Dust. The recorded version does feature two fellow Allman Brothers member — bassist Oteil Burbridge and percussionist Marc Quinones.

While Haynes wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on Ashes & Dust, the album does feature a few covers, including a rendition of the Stevie Nicks-penned Fleetwood Mac tune “Gold Dust Woman.”

“I’m really happy with the way it turned out,” says Warren. “It honors the original version but sounds different from the original version. It’s more like this haunting Celtic sort of acoustic vibe that’s kind of cool.”

Haynes kicked off a series of summer tour dates on Thursday with an album release show at Town Hall in New York City. Railroad Earth will be performing with him at most of his shows through mid-August. He also has some special festival performances scheduled and a run of fall shows at which he’ll be backed by drummer Jeff Sipe and the Nashville-based Americana trio ChessBoxer.

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