Thursday, September 5, 2019

ROBERT RANDOLPH & The Family Band: "Brighter Days"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Mascot 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

New Jeresy? Orange, baby! and it's proper old skool Roadhouse material from the word go. Robert Randolph grew up playing sacred steel music – gospel played on pedal steel guitar – on the House of God church and began taking his joyous, gospel-infused music out to clubs and into the world. The Grammy-nominated musician and his band consisting of various family members (minus the dodgy uncle down the basement) are going back to Randolph's gospel roots, mixing it up with blues, R&B, soul, funk, and the unmistaken sound of the pedal steel guitar.

I've been playing this non-stop for weeks now (release date was delayed) and I can safely say that "Brighter Days" speak of quality and there's hardly a poor track in sight and certainly no dodgy musicianship. The massive sideburns and groovy 70's vibe is set perfectly by the great production by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlile) and by Robert Randolph's gravelly voice cutting through the hordes of wailing keys and steel guitars. Sister Lenesha Randolph is a little ripper on vocals and cousins Danyel Morgan on bass and Marcus Randolph on drums are rock steady throughout the platter.

The family band flawlessly construct each track, injecting joy and hope of brighter days, avoiding the often similar structure of the genre and put themselves up there alongside R&B finest. Opening track "Baptize Me" provides slide and gravelly voice of highest order. According to Randoplh the song is "a love story, about an all-round love: for each other, for our audience", end quote. "Don't Fight It" takes the gospel to the people with a driving mood and big beat drums alongside excellent slide guitar work. "Simple Man" is a smashing cover of the old Staple Singers composition and I'm sure Pops would nod and smile along to RR's version (Mavis too for that matter). Highly Recommended.

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