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Rich Robinson – The Ceaseless Sight

July 7, 2014

Rich Robinson ceaseless_cover

In 2012 I was blown away by Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s Big Moon Ritual.  In fact it was my #1 from that year’s “best of list.”  I am a long time Black Crowes fan (it is hard to believe that is a 25 year pursuit), so I come to Rich Robinson’s new album (The Ceaseless Sight) with a pretty positive bias.  CRB’s has had a few equally cool releases since Big Moon Ritual, including an amazing Record Store Day release.  The last couple of years have been Chris, but this year is Rich. I will state right up front that this album is a front-runner for my album of the year for 2014.

First kudos to Rich Robinson for doing vinyl right and making the vinyl edition the deluxe package it should be at two to three times the cost of a CD.  I am so sick of paying $20-$30 for a new album on crappy vinyl (pop, clicks and static on the first play) and the “bonus” of an MP3 download (could you at least provide CD quality lossless format?).  Robinson uses high quality vinyl (that is visual gorgeous too – see below), provides a CD version of the album and has a side D of bonus material not available anywhere else other than on the vinyl edition – and priced at about $22 (the low end these days for a double disk).  Thanks  for treating your highest paying customer (the vinyl buyer) right!

rr wax

Given that Rich Robinson is an established guitarist in a pretty famous guitar based rock band, I would have expected this to be a guitar slinger’s LP.  There is great string play here, but Rich is first and foremost a songwriter and his guitar playing is focused on support of the songs rather than showing off his guitar-god prowess.

The first few times through the album I was handicapping Rich’s voice as he did not have the classic rock and roll pipes of big brother Chris.  But the more I listened I began to really appreciate the relaxed subtle nuance of Rich’s voice. Like his guitar playing,  his voice is there to support the song vs. being the star of the show.  There are several textures to his voice – he seems to introduce a different texture on every song.

I am always careful about trying to classify music as the labels can be so deceiving, but if you are not familiar with an artist labels are helpful to determine if this is someone you want to check out.  So here goes the label: bluesy-folk-rock, with just a touch of jam band.  Influences seem to range from classic Stone’s boogie to Nick Drake belly button contemplation.

The secret sauce for this album is keyboardist Marco Benevento.  His contributions add significantly to the overall sound of this album.  One of the elements I always loved about Lynyrd Skynyrd was Billy Powell’s contribution.  Great keyboards are very underrated in a guitar based rock band – that add some serious soul to proceedings.

Some quick thoughts on each cut:

“I Know You” Sounds like Karl Wallinger of World Party fronting the Stones.

“Down The Road”  This song highlights a more acoustic sound. I can imagine lying on my back in the grass at a jam band festival enjoying this one.

“One Road Hill”  Another acoustic based song with a folk/country feel.  This is the song that made me think of Nick Drake.

“The Giving Key” Great Laurel Canyon/Southern California 70s vibe. Love the organ and female back up vocals courtesy of Levon Helm’s daughter Amy.

“Unfortunate Show” has that Black Crowes’ bluesy vibe dripping with Stones and Faces influences.

“In Comes The Night” I love the nice acoustic intro.  This is classic folk rock and proof that Rich has some great pipes of his own.

“Inside” has a great funky and playful groove.

“I Have A Feeling” I love songs like this that simmer and then boil.  This song has a Traffic feel that is sexy and seductive.

“I Remember” Rich shows his full set of skills: Allman Brothers’ groove, strong guitar lead across the track and yet another solid vocal.

“In you”  Rich treats us to a  Gary Louris like (Jayhawks) vocal and  Stephen Stills like guitar solo.

“Trial and Faith” Marching drums lay a nice foundation for searing guitar work.

“Obscure the day” The album ends on with beautiful instrumental track.  It has that acoustic Led Zeppelin feel to it. It has shifting moods from quite lullaby to subtly menacing.  Side D (LP only) is filled out with similar acoustic based instrumentals.

As I said at the beginning of this post I am quite smitten by this album.  If you are a vinyl person you are richly rewarded with a great presentation in that format.  One of my definitions of a great album is that with every listen the album reveals more – this album keeps revealing more and sounds better with each listen.



From → Music Reviews

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