Looking back, it seems inevitable that the Black Crowes would suffer a rocky middle age. After they mapped out the furthest reaches of their world on 1994's Amorica, they slowly spun their tires, turning out records both respectable and tired, before internal tensions slowly tore the brothers Robinson apart, leading to a split in 2002. A few years of solo wanderings led the Crowes to a reunion in 2005, but they had to go through a few more lineup changes -- including the addition of North Mississippi AllStars Luthor Dickinson as the replacement for guitarist Marc Ford -- before they buckled down to record their seventh album, 2008's Warpaint. All that turmoil and trouble are felt on Warpaint, as are the years the band spent paying dues on the jam band circuit after Amorica. Warpaint shows that the decade of hard struggle gave the Crowes soul and chops, turning them into the band they've always wanted to be. As this album is not only their strongest set of songs since Amorica, it has a depth and presence that is rare for a digital age creation and, best of all, the album has a true narrative thrust, making it feel like a true classic rock album.