Soul blues is on the rise again, and Tad Robinson possesses a distinctive Motown voice and style admitting little in the way of modernisms, favoring a true heart-of-the-South vibe cut with a bit of ghetto Chicago and occasionally perhaps just the smallest trifle of Rod Stewart in a smooth gravelly whiskey glass glazed with smoky swamp water as a chaser. Small surprise, then, that members of the estimable Memphis Horns grace the CD behind a backing ensemble giving Robinson full center stage. This is a vocal blues CD, y'all—sure, with some great harp from him as well (too damn little, as I'm lovin' that sound!) and three lazily pitch-perfect guitarists who know how to wring the most from every single note—and each cut is invested with the sort gut-deep emotion that only the human voice can properly embody.
Now resident on the Severn label, Robinson garnered five Blues Music Award nominations for his last two releases. Were I not to tell you the gent is white, you'd never think to ask. He could easily open for Robert Cray and wow that R&B great's audiences. Had Back in Style appeared in the day when Otis, Smokey, Marvin, and all the greats held sway, you'd be turning the dial up and calling the radio station to ask who the new cat was. And, man, when those truly righteous backing vocals appear in Just Out of my Reach, soothing every hurt and disappointment, contrasting Robinson's plaintive urgency, the whole thing reaches a pinnacle. So, uptight and tech-freaked Mr. New Century and the missus, throw Back in Style on the player, then sit back and grin as you and your guests grow misty-eyed and melancholy over the good old days, crafted right here and now by a singer who never left the heyday's mean alleys and dusty hopes.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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