Title - Through A Crooked Sun + Woodstock Sessions, Vol 3
Artist - Rich Robinson
As I'm sure you are all well aware by now, Rich Robinson is an American musician and founding member of the rock and roll band The Black Crowes. Along with older brother Chris Robinson, Rich formed the band in 1984 (originally called Mr. Crowes Garden) while the two were attending Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia. Incredibly, at age just 15, Rich wrote the music to what would become one of the band’s first singles; "She Talks to Angels".
After all the 90's success that The Black Crowes had, Robinson seemed poised to redirect their musical direction into more progressive ventures with the 2001 release of Lions. But, after that album's tour concluded in October 2001, the band decided to take a break from each other. After the announcement of the band’s hiatus, Rich formed a new outfit called Hookah Brown and from then on in solo projects were his mainstay.
Following on from his debut solo album Paper, which contained brand new material along with songs that were initially written for Robinson's 2002-2003 project, Hookah Brown, Through a Crooked Sun is Robinson's sophomore solo album. The album contains twelve studio tracks along with two bonus tracks, and features guest appearances by Warren Haynes, John Medeski, Karl Berger and Larry Campbell.
If you're a fan of Robinson (and who isn't), you'll be glad to hear that Eagle Rock Entertainment will be releasing not only his new solo album in 2016, but several newly reimagined re-issues of Robinson's back catalogue. We've already had both CD and LP reissues of the Llama Blues EP and Paper, and now we get both Through A Crooked Sun, and the Woodstock Sessions, Vol. 3.
All these releases will come complete with bonus tracks, with the LP versions being issued and packaged as colored vinyls: Llama Blues will be released in blue, Paper in red, Through A Crooked Sun in white, and Woodstock Sessions in brown.
As for Robinson's second album Through a Crooked Sun, for my money, attune to my own musical ear, it contains way more upbeat mood swings than his debut, Paper. It's highly intelligent lyrically, and his singing; his actual vocal tone, is comfortable and intimate. There are a number of different vibes and feelings and the instruments and textures they bring is far deeper than Paper also. As a whole the songs here on Through A Crooked Sun feel more organic, less pushed through than Paper.
In closing, the music is like a mixture of early 70's hard, funk rock, thick southern boogie jams and a dash of psychedelia thrown in for good measure! That said, my personal favorite is one born of complete power of simplicity: 'All Along the Way.' A stunning ballad and the highlight of the album, again, for my money.
Let's be honest. There's something special about an artist who seeks out the opportunity to record an album in just two (2) days! And it's even more special when that album is recorded in front of a live audience. On May 31st and June 1st, 2014, Rich Robinson invited an intimate group to Applehead Studios in Woodstock, N.Y. to join him as he recorded a new album.
More than just bystanders, the fans witnessed the production and actually became a part of the fabric of the record that you're (hopefully now) listening to. They were sitting in the studio, just a few feet from Robinson. They interacted with the band, they looked over the producer's shoulder. Beyond the different variables that are hard to control in a live setting, this type of experience creates a very vulnerable environment for the artist.
While it might distract some, it seemed to only enhance Robinson's performance and connection with the crowd. Seasoned fans were granted insights into the artist's process that could not have been gleaned through years of listening. Those two days will forever be a part of the aura that is Woodstock. Sure, Robinson is no stranger to the magical town, having recorded solo and Black Crowes music there, but something remarkable happened during these sessions.
Low and sparse, sturdy and controlled, the Woodstock Sessions, Vol 3 showcases Robinson's solo freedom to grow in the ways he obviously felt somewhat constrained by within his former band. This is massive growth on Robinson's part and sure, he doesn't have nearly the vocal presence as his brother, but give the man credit for exploring what he is capable of! He's done a wonderful job with this live album and it is one brimming with the powers of both beauty and simplicity. The album includes one bonus track, 'Got To Get Better In A Little While'.
1. The Giving Key
2. Gone Away
3. By The Light Of The Sunset Moon
4. I Have A Feeling
5. Laila II
6. One Cylinder
7. Bye Bye Baby
8. Answers (Action Direction)
9. I Know You
10. Lost And Found
11. Oh! Sweet Nuthin
12. Got To Get Better In A Little While
'Through A Crooked Sun' CD Purchase Link
'Woodstock Sessions, Vol 3' CD Purchase Link