By Martine Ehrenclou
It’s late afternoon and I hadn’t slept well the night before. You know the feeling. You’re tired, struggling to overcome fatigue through the coffee buzz. I put on Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s new album, Got Soul, released February 17, 2017. I click the first track. Daammm if that song doesn’t snap me out of it. On the second listen, I am taken by it, the jammin’ beat, the vocals, Randolph’s pedal steel guitar, the band’s musicianship.
I am hooked.
Got Soul, Robert Randolph’s fifth studio album, is fierce. It’s energetic, funky blues and rock, with gospel flavors infused throughout. It’s an authentic sound for sure. Dare I not mention Randolph’s virtuoso pedal steel guitar skills. Extraordinary. Truly he is. And if you’re thinking that pedal steel guitar is just for country or Hawaiian music, think again. Randolph rocks it with the mostly excellent 12 tracks.
Listen to the vocals and back up vocals on the first track of the album, Got Soul. Beautifully orchestrated by talented singers, Randolph being one of them.
The intro to the next track, “She Got Soul,” is a genuine nod to gospel and certainly to Randolph’s gospel roots, complete with the B3 organ and the various vocalists. But then this tune ramps up with tasty guitar licks (courtesy of the great, Eric Gales) mixed with Randolph’s pedal steel guitar licks and solos. This song definitely woke me up. It made me want to see this band live. They are touring now and into summer. Consider checking them out.
This band is tight. Sometimes with great vocalists or musicians, the instrument or the musician playing it, overshadows the songs. Think of any great guitar player in the genre you love, (probably blues-rock or just blues if you’re reading this) and think about what stands out. The songs? The band itself? Or the extraordinary guitarist?
That isn’t the case with The Robert Randolph Band. It could be, Randolph is that good on pedal steel guitar. The band’s musicianship is just excellent and it’s about how they play together that makes their sound, makes their songs shine.
Featured guest vocalists on the album, Got Soul, are heavyweights, Anthony Hamilton and Darius Rucker. A hidden gem is the great guitarist, Eric Gales, playing electric guitar on several of the tracks.
“I Want It,” the ninth track on the album, kicks off with a 1970’s nod to classic rock and then moves into some really interesting chord changes, combined with strong back up singers and harmonies.
“Got Soul,” “I Want It” and “Find a Way” are the standout tracks for me on this album. They are songs for live concerts where you have room to dance in the aisles. Or tunes for cranking the volume way up on a truly great sound system so your house or apartment is flooded with the sound.
“Love Do What It Do” features Darius Rucker on vocals. It’s a really good song, memorable even, with a catchy melody. It’s a bit more commercial than some of the others. I can’t go without at least mentioning Randolph’s knockout pedal steel guitar playing on this tune and others.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight the prominent bass runs in songs like “Love Do What It Do.” Those runs give the songs such a distinct sound and rhythm.
Got Soul is available on:
Amazon Music: http://amzn.to/2mevvJU
Apple Music: http://apple.co/2lUncSw
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