(Eagle Rock Entertainment)
Release Date: 24th June 2016
Guitarist Rich Robinson, along with his older brother and vocalist Chris, formed Mr Crowes Garden in the mid 80s, changing their name to the Black Crowes before their 1990 debut, 'Shake Your Money Maker'.
During many a hiatus and post Crowes, Robinson has worked in other projects, including with his brother, as well as solo. Eagle Rock have neatly reissued his solo work, culminating in this new solo album.
As a guitarist, Robinson was influenced by The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd (notably obvious on some of the early Black Crowes material) as well as Neil Young, Nick Drake and Peter Green. The aforementioned debut, released in 1990, was recorded in 1989 and featured a blistering and successful cover of 'Hard To Handle', a breath of fresh air in the face of grunge.
Article continues below...
1992s 'The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion' also did well, 'Remedy' being a successful single from the album. The 'Tall' album was scrapped and this spawned the 'Amorica' album, with the infamously banned in some markets sleeve, in 1994.
'Three Snakes & One Charm', 'By Your Side', 'Lions', 'Warpaint' and 'Before The Frost Until The Freeze' take the band up to 2009, interspersed by breakups, other projects, projects and a number of different line-ups. 2016 will also see Robinson as a temporary replacement for Mick Ralphs in a reformed Bad Company.
Robinson's debut solo release, 'Paper', was released in 2004 and was followed by 'Through A Crooked Sun' and 2014's 'The Ceaseless Sight' and there's also been a number of EPs and live sets along the way. This album, 'Flux', is Rich Robinson's fourth solo studio set and here he is joined by keyboardists Matt Slocum (Allman Brothers) Marco Benevento and Danny Mitchell, bassist Zak Gabbard, drummer Joe Magistro and vocalists John Hogg and Danielia Cotton.
Much of Robinson's solo work has moved away from the Black Crowes, to the point of being a little off the wall. This album maybe less so, as opener 'The Upstairs Land' kicks off with a rich keyboard led groove before some harsh bluesy guitars come in.
'Shipwreck' has a more soul and funk feel, the harsh drum sound leading the rhythm. There's some acoustic blues to the electric Americana of 'Music That Will Lift Me', that features Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr. Equally there's a hint of gospel swell to 'Everything's Alright'.
The guitar on 'Eclipse The Night' stands out, that has both blues and funk touches and the emotional build up to 'Life' reels you in. An interesting rhythm nods to disjointed without going off the rails, and the effects make for a range of feels throughout the song.
Much like the new Eric Clapton album, it's not as much about the guitar, certainly a lot less than 20 years ago, it's all about the songs, the groove. While there is some excellent guitar work across blues, soul, funk and rock, intricate and at times blistering, it is all a little more MOR than the casual Black Crowes fan might expect. Check out the guitar solo in 'Astral' for that "guitar" moment.
Overall very enjoyable, but I think one for the fan and guitarist rather than the rocker in you.