Review: Robin Trower Basks in the Blues

Robin Trower/Joyful Noise/Provogue
3.5 Out of Five Stars 

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At this point in his six-decade career, Robin Trower’s a highly reliable brand, an exceptional guitarist who manages to bask in the blues. After making his name with Procol Harum, he left once that band hit the peak of its popularity and went solo, scoring an immediate hit with his debut Twice Removed From Yesterday. His scorching, searing guitar style was clearly influenced by Jimi Hendrix, but his psychedelic sojourn was curtailed by a desire to tap into a template of his own making, occasionally in the company of others, such as Jack Bruce, Maxi Priest, and Livingstone Brown. 

Trower’s new studio album, Joyful Sky, finds him consolidating his stance and stripping things down to bare basics. He’s joined by singer Sari Schorr, a formidable presence that adds a new dynamic to each of the album’s offerings. Trower himself plays bass as well as guitar, while Chris Taggert is credited with playing drums. The result is a taut set of songs that adheres to contemporary blues without any extraneous additives. Schorr’s vocals help shape the sound, from the slow, mournful wait of “Burn” and steady shuffle of “I’ll Be Moving On,” to the relentless resolve of “Joyful Sky” and the sturdy, assertive strains of “The Circle Is  Complete.”

To be sure, there’s nothing here that comes across as anything that can be construed as necessarily new or revolutionary. Trower and company hew to a fairly standard style as far as the blues are concerned. Nevertheless, Trower’s riveting guitar work and Schorr’s dramatic, dynamic vocals work well in sync, giving the material an urgent and emphatic presence that heightens its impact both instantly and effectively.

Ultimately then, Joyful Sky represents a stunning display of verve and veracity, a dynamic new chapter for those involved. In that regard, it could be considered a modest milestone.

Photo by Rob-Blackham

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