Genre: Hard Rock
Label: The End Records
Release: June 3rd 2014
As is often the case siblings in bands will fight and disagree with each other on pretty much everything whilst delivering some of their best material. One only has to look at Oasis and The Black Crowes to see this fact borne out. How then does one of the siblings fare when working as a solo artist? Does their creativity suffer without their muse \ foil opposite them or does it free them up to deliver music that might never make their combined ‘band’ albums?
In Rich Robinson’s case, he’s now releasing his third album ‘The Ceaseless Sight’. As co-founder of the The Black Crowes and having sold well over 30 million albums throughout a career that spans over 25 years, Rich certainly has the pedigree and experience to branch out as a solo artist and with this release he’s delivered something that will keep long term Crowes fans happy but presents a mix of country tinged tracks along side some classic rock stylings as well.
‘Down The Road’ is one such track where the sound is definitely closer to country music than out and out rock and that same style is cemented in the immediate follow up ‘One Road Hill’. the use of acoustic guitars, subtle backing vocals and soft bass string licks present a picture of people in jeans, check shirts and cowboy boots with thumbs in belts dancing along to these songs. For those Black Crowes fans thinking “oh no what has he done..?” don’t be put off by these comments as the music has a strong groove to it and draws the listener in to something slightly different to what they might be expecting. If you think that bands like the Rolling Stones have taken a few chances over the years with their output and have succeeded in giving the listener something that is different but still excellent then that applies equally to what Robinson has on offer here.
‘The Giving Key’ utilises some wonderful harmonious female backing vocals that give the song depth and contains a stand out guitar solo that warrants repeated listens. ‘The Unfortunate Show’ pulls the electric guitar back to the front of the mix and presents a bluesier, bar room feel to the track with piano playing from Marco Benevento underneath it adding pace and energy. The energy continues into ‘In Comes The Night’ where the initial feel of country music again pervades but as the track builds so does that energy and by the close of the song, Robinson is really rocking playing some fantastic solos under the main groove of the song. His voice also suits the deeper end of vocal ranges and thus sits nicely with melancholy lyrics and the bluesier numbers that also sit comfortably on the album. That vocal style stands out on ‘Inside’ and the deeper sound is complimented by some more great keyboard \ organ work from Benevento. It’s one of those tracks on the albums that prevents the listener from assuming they know ‘what’s coming next’ and will make them take a fresh interest in the album as it moves off again on a slightly different direction.
The hammond organ sound that drives ‘I Remember’ gives the track an almost gospel-like feel and the harmonised ‘aaaahhhhh’ that the band sing over Robinson on the chorus bring to mind The Beatles which again makes the listener stop and pay attention to yet another approach to song writing. By now, the solos are coming thick and fast and it’s almost as if Robinson has been holding back on some of the earlier tracks on the album as he lets his guitar remind us of exactly who he is and what he’s known for.
Overall the album feels far more reflective and thoughtful than your average rock album and thus fits very well in the style of music that southern and mid west America will lap up. For the listener to enjoy it at its’ best, they certainly need to be in a mellow mood, sitting on the porch on a warm summer’s night looking out and watching the world go by. It’s not a party album by any means but it certainly shows us that sometimes what matters is the simply the song. Robinson proves that stripped back, classic song writing skills can deliver a thoughtful and evocative album that can leave you pondering the meaning of life long after the album has finished.
REVIEWED BY ADRIAN