2019 album. (Ex-lead singer of The Black Crowes). Also available on CD.
Chris Robinson was the vocalist supremo with The Black Crowes, America’s premier retro roots n roll band of the 1990s scoring big time with their first two albums ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ & ‘Southern Harmony And Musical Companion’. The band continued to get better and better, in our opinion peaking with their fourth album, ‘Three Snakes And One Charm’ (1996) which saw the group coming into their own and leaving very few reference points for their organic sonic mix. The group only lasted another couple of albums before splitting - Robinson recorded two solo albums in the early 00s before the Crowes reformed for two more studio sets only to split again. This time Robinson pulled a new band together: Chris Robinson Brotherhood - with the proviso to jam, stretch out and record and tour whenever they want.
‘Servants of the Sun’ (The band’s 7th full length album since forming in 2011) bursts into the clear blue air with the funky upper atmosphere bubbling of vintage keyboards and driving rhythm. A gateway swings wide open to a universe that the Chris Robinson Brotherhood has been tirelessly constructing for eight years through extraordinary musicianship, endless touring and a roving, seemingly bottomless wizard’s chest of sonic delights.
The major themes of ‘Servants of the Sun’ are experienced in a constant swirl within the CRB sound. There’s the up-tempo ramble and strut of “Comin’ Round the Mountain” juxtaposed against the surreal on “Venus In Chrome.” There’s redemption through love on “The Chauffeur’s Daughter” set alongside the ominous poetry of “A Smiling Epitaph.” “Dice Game” is an exquisite slice of blue country, while “Let it Fall” sashays with fond homage to the slinky rhythms and stoned, but sizzling energy of Little Feat and New Orleans soul-funk.
The album captures Robinson and company hurtling between the fire and mania of Saturday night and the bruises and rain-on-the-bus-window reflection of the cold Sunday morning dawn. Beyond the bullet holes, red-eyed angry angels, alchemy, praying mantises, hangovers, and all other manner of cosmic debris gone lyrically airborne love is lost, new love is found, relationships are bent and broken by distance and time or by unrelenting proximity and timelessness. All the while, the line between autobiography and psychedelic fantasy is completely blurred.
It is to the credit of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s musical naturalism that such a ferris wheel of themes, tones and characters can exist in the same fast moving air. With ‘Servants of the Sun’ they’ve conjured yet another authentic statement free-flowing from their essential expression. In the effortless stream of storylines, hornet-stung emotions, and Kodachrome snapshot images rushing by, the listener hasn’t just landed in the CRB’s world and the joys and sorrows of their lives, they’ve also awakened in their dream. And as Chris Robinson sings, “sometimes a dream is to be believed.”