By Martine Ehrenclou
When three legendary artists come together to create a sound all their own, it doesn’t always work out the way it does on United State Of Mind by Robin Trower, Maxi Priest and Livingstone Brown released October 9, 2020 on Manhaton Records. A trio of musicians you might not necessarily put together, they blend their unique sounds to create an album of singular beauty.
My only regret is that I didn’t review United State of Mind earlier. The album is a brilliant mix of contemporary blues and R&B with hints of rock, showcasing Priest’s soulful, silky vocals, Trower’s emotive guitar playing, and Livingstone’s ‘Midas touch’ on production. The musicianship is superb, as are the nine tracks.
United State of Mind by Trower, Priest and Browne is a work of art, cutting edge and ahead of its time. Using instruments and vocals not tempered by technology, this is an album that features breathtaking tracks with the raw talents of three notable artists who come from completely different musical orientations and find common ground.
Title track, “United State of Mind” opens the set with one of many moving and beautifully written songs sung by Maxi Priest, one of our generation’s great multi-Grammy-nominated vocalists. Infused with Robin Trower’s emotional and inventive guitar playing, this is one helluva album opener with groove.
A mid-tempo number enters the picture with “Are We Just People,” a fresh, contemporary R&B song that questions how we choose to live and asks if we should reach for something more. Trower’s wah-soaked guitar riffs punch up the funk and strings add texture and depth. It’s a moody and compelling track with Priest’s soulful vocals winding their way through the thoughtful lyrics. Trower’s guitar solo is as you might expect—exquisite, emotional and gritty, with attention to space between the notes. Along with several other tracks on the album, it is a song for our troubled times. You will be soothed, and moved.
Breathtaking songs abound on United State of Mind buoyed by rhythm, horns and percussion. The production by Brown must be highlighted as it’s guided by an expert hand with love for this music.
“Walking Wounded” is a beauty. Opening with only Trower’s bluesy guitar riffs and Priest’s inspiring vocals, later accompanied by strings and a brush of a drum. He sings, “Walking wounded, I think I’ve fallen down, big ol’ empty room, where silence is a sound. Like a bullet to my mind, my head is spinning ‘round, feeling less, more loneliness, love has shot me down.” Priest’s voice is downright beautiful. Trower’s guitar solo is one of the most moving I’ve heard, magnificent in its soulfulness.
Stamping their unique trademarks throughout United State of Mind, Trower, Priest and Brown have done an exceptional job of integrating their unique talents into a collection of songs that embody groove-laden tracks with meaningful lyrics, mind boggling musicianship, stellar horns and percussion/drums. The songs will either seep into your psyche or knock you out right from the start.
There are rocking R&B numbers with rhythmic feel like “It’s a Good Day” that whisk you out of any doldrums you might be experiencing and others like album closer “ Hands To The Sky,” a horn-steeped track with gospel and rock flavors that reminds us that music is a healer.
United State of Mind hits on all cylinders—songwriting, vocals, musicianship and production. Trower, Priest and Brown have captured some kind of magic. I hope they will continue on their musical journey together and release more albums. Highly recommended.
Listen to “Walking Wounded”
Order link for United State of Mind
Tower Priest and Brown Online