Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Servants of the Sun – Review
by J. Kyr
Chris Robinson enjoys his beginnings in the Black Crowes but feels he has more to say at this juncture in his life. His focus on The Chris Robinson Brotherhood is the vehicle to get him there. Robinson’s Brotherhood has just released their latest effort Servants of the Sun. Proving this is not a vanity project by Robinson, but a lasting direction that fans are using their voice of approval about. The group has built their new following one fan at a time, with hard work and tenacity. There will be a change in the lineup upcoming in an announcement made by their representative in May that states, “The CRB and Adam MacDougall have parted ways,” reads the statement. “It was a great run with Adam and we wish him the best. We are looking forward to releasing our new studio album, Servants Of The Sun, on June 14 and will continue to tour through the end of July. Following which, the band will take the remainder of 2019 off.” MacDougall’s tenure with Chris Robinson dates back to 2007. Adam replaced Rob Clores in The Black Crowes starting with the recording of Warpaint in 2007. The New York City native played keys in The Black Crowes from 2007 through the band’s breakup in 2015. In 2011, he formed the Chris Robinson Brotherhood with Chris Robinson, guitarist Neal Casal, bassist Mark Dutton and drummer George Sluppick. Casal remains the only original member in the band besides Robinson. Luckily there is plenty to satiate your appetite while the band regroups and refocuses on what they do best, music.
“Let It Fall” is set the perfect blend of seventies funk combined with a little blues and some rock. The band is tight and lays down a groove that allows Robinson to dig in and evoke his vocal magic. The melody is a series of short phrases indicative of the blues genre. Robinson builds on this and embellished each phrase. The bridge offers the perfect release and the band and Robinson present a fresh hue. Casal provides excellent slide guitar work behind Robinson’s vocals. The guitar work throughout “Let It Fall” has just the right amount of Southern attitude and tasty rock brashness. The choir at the end of the track is a nice touch.
“Venus in Chrome” has a catchy riff for an intro that again has overtones from the seventies. Robinson’s melody is interesting and has his usual creative embellishments within the phrase. Robinson’s interaction with background vocals add interest and the song has many changes that keep the energy moving. The music feels good with a lively beat and interesting harmonic twist and turns. The guitar solo is energetic and melodic. Robinson’s vocal timbre is lush, full and warm, with just enough edge to cut through the mix with authority and a unique character that is instantly identifiable.
Servants of the Sun offers a bright and frothing sound that is based in jam excursions. The band has captured a funky sonic that is pinned strongly by Robinson’s soulful blues inflected voice. Guitarist Neal Casal is a pivotal sound in the kaleidoscope of textures. There are ten cuts on the album, predominately written by Chris Robinson, except for 3 that were co-written with Neal Casal. Another solid win by the Brotherhood, filled with storied lyrics that still reminisce from the pen of Robinson that has been a linear theme throughout his career.