Robin Trower Is Back With An Inspiration To Burn And No Intention Of Winding Down

For six decades, Robin Trower’s career has been an act of quiet rebellion. Rewind the reels of the British guitarist’s backstory and you’ll find an artist who has always...

 

 

For six decades, Robin Trower’s career has been an act of quiet rebellion. Rewind the reels of the British guitarist’s backstory and you’ll find an artist who has always rolled the dice rather than take the path of least resistance. In the early-’70s, Trower announced his fearless streak by leaving the security of Procol Harum for a gold-selling solo career whose ever-present Bridge Of Sighs – album filled the stadiums of North America. Since then, he’s flowed from his own projects to collaborations with everyone from Jack Bruce to the United State Of Mind supergroup alongside Maxi Priest and Livingstone Brown.

Fast-forward to 2023 and Trower’s new studio album, Joyful Sky, represents vindication for his latest flash of artistic instinct. Always receptive to singers who can elevate his emotive guitar touch, the 78-year-old heard a quality in the smoky power of the acclaimed New Yorker Sari Schorr that made him want to tear down and rebuild his songcraft around her.

“I’ve worked with some great vocalists over the years but Sari is dynamite, just an absolute knockout,” reflects Trower. “This album really pushed me, made me write in different keys and arrange songs for her voice. I went more down the R&B route this time, because I knew she’d be great with that flavour. But the blues still underpins everything I do – and there’s definitely elements from my ’70s stuff in this new album.”

Anyone who has taken even a passing interest in the timeline of blues-rock will hardly need reminding of those seminal days. Born in 1945 in South London and raised in Essex, Trower found himself perfectly placed for the British blues boom of the mid-’60s, but was always more in thrall to the Deep South giants like B.B. King and Albert King. Similarly blessed with the ability to make one note tell a whole story, Trower graduated from early group The Paramounts to Procol Harum in 1967, recording five albums with the prog institution before realising: “I had more ideas than they had room for”.

Featuring vocals and bass from the late James Dewar, along with a title borrowed from a racehorse whose name caught Trower’s eye in the newspaper, Bridge Of Sighs was an irresistible collision of fiery blues and the beautifully languorous fretwork of cuts like In This Place, earning the guitarist a US#7 and the fanbase that would follow him onward through every left turn.

While his own hot streak never ended, a half-century later, Trower has a theory on why so many of his fellow Sixties survivors resort to recycling the hits (“I think the problem is that some people run out of ideas – and thank God, I haven’t”). As such, while the title of last year’s No More Worlds To Conquer album could be interpreted as a coded farewell, Trower assures fans he has inspiration to burn and no intention of winding down. “If anything, recording new music is even more gratifying now. I love to play the guitar. I love to write songs. That’s what keeps me bouncing. I’ve got all these songs, so I want to get them in the can and ready to go in case my health fails.”

Joyful Sky

1. Burn
2. I’ll Be Moving On
3. The Distance
4. Peace Of Mind
5. Change It
6. Joyful Sky
7. Need For You
8. The Circle Is Complete
9. Flatter To Decieve
10. I Will Always Be Your Shelter

 

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