Back at the turn of the century, Gov’t Mule issued its third studio album, Life Before Insanity. It was (perhaps, unintentionally) an incredibly prescient title. Over the next two decades, and eight Mule studio sets that followed, America witnessed events and changes that boggled the mind- from the 9/11 attacks to a financial meltdown to the presidency of a game-show host/real estate mogul to a global pandemic. So, now, arrives this dozen-song LP, the band’s 12th studio album, titled also so fittingly, Peace…Like a River.

Recorded during the same pandemic-era sessions at the Power Station New England that produced the Grammy-nominated Heavy Load Blues, this is a decidedly more diverse effort, dotted with special guests, and making abundantly clear the need for a return to some amity and some calm. Led by guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Warren Haynes, the twelve cuts run the gamut of the quartet’s array of influences and inspirations. Opening with “Same As It Ever Was,” Jorgen Carlsson’s doubled-up basslines course with fury through a track that lyrically seems to wink at Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” (slyly replacing ‘song’ for ‘soul’ in the line, ‘let your song and spirit fly’) while on the outro can’t help but remind of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.”

From there, the album careens through the throwback steamroll of “Shake Our Way Out,” driven by the boulder-steady drumming of Matt Abts, that welcomes the midnight-shades of ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons, shifting then to The Beatles-in-Memphis vibe of “Made My Peace.” There is “Your Only Friend,” a ballad laced with strings that sounds like a song Haynes could have just as easily written for his old mates, The Allman Brothers Band. And there’s the soul-affirming “Dreaming Out Loud,” with guests Ruthie Foster and Ivan Neville, that wears its Tower of Power love across its chest.

Billy Bob Thornton haunts the ghostly, swampedelic reggae of “The River Only Flows One Way,” conjured by Danny Louis’ evocative keyboard work. Then, on a duet with Haynes, Celisse dresses up a deliciously slinky “Just Across The River,” before the Mule kicks its way out of the stall with a nod to the brass-driven, back-alley funk’n’blues of the ‘80s on “Long Time Coming,” and a dash of Crazy Horse peppering “Gone Too Long,” a Southern rock finale shining with Haynes’ always luminous guitar work. Maybe there is peace in that river, but there’s also plenty of whitewater, and once again the Mule rides the rapids with formidable strength and skill, searching for banks of serenity or, at least, sanity.