Despite the title (and the country rock-ish opening track) this isn't a country album but is more of Robben's usual tasteful mix of blues, jazz and rock following on from his last studio album 'Bringing it back home'. The nine songs are all Ford originals and were all recorded in one day in a Nashville recording studio - amazing, considering that these aren't straight-forward 12-bar jams but often quite complicated compositions. This must have been down in part to the band which turns in a a great ensemble performance, providing seamless backing throughout, with Robben contributing very professional guitar solos and vocals on top - with his jazz heritage really showing through. Honourable mentions go to the rhythm section of bassist Brian Allen and drummer Wes Little who really swing, Ricky Peterson from David Sanborn's band on keyboards who really shines on Hammond and trombonist Barry Green who is fantastic throughout. My favourite tracks were 'Different people' and 'Cut you loose' which I thought were both very original, and I also liked the closing 'Just another country road' - again not a country song but an uptempo jazzy romp. The quick recording time is evident in the record's freshness and immediacy but this is also a very sophisticated, tight performance with a layered production that stands repeated listening.
Robben Ford is a prolific blues man, he has many solo albums and has worked alongside such artists as Miles Davies, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers and Joni Mitchell, quite a pedigree!
I enjoyed this album but it didn't wow me. It consists of nine numbers and lasts about 45 minutes, it starts with 'Green Grass, Rainwater' which is a southern blues rock number a little slow though on which to start an album? The second track is titled 'Midnight comes too soon' this is a slow classic blues number which features a excellent guitar solo accompanied by Robben's accomplished vocals. 'Top down blues' and 'Thump & Bump' were both instrumental blues numbers featuring a New Orleans flavoured trumpet. My favourite track was 'Poor Kelly Blues' this I thought had everything that the blues is about in one, classic blues guitar riffs, excellent backing from the musicians and a bass line to die for.
I enjoyed this album and it is definitely a good listen recommended!
Contrary to what you could expect from the title, this is mostly a return to the blues for Robben, and that's where I like him the most. I have all his records, solo or with others, and I find this one the most enjoyable in years. Guitar sound is crystall, solos beautiful, nothing to complain about. Highly recommended.
This is another fine album from a superb musician. It is refreshing to know that there are still musicians that are so talented they can record a studio album live. A truly wonderful blues guitarist, who matures with age. The album is sheer quality.
Given Robben's previous forays into various musical 'genres' (such as the jazzy 'City Life' and the 'covers' of Keep on Running') it's easy to be fooled into anticipating that this may be a venture into 'country' territory given its title.
However, nothing could be further from the truth as this album is a pretty seamless progression from last year's 'Bringing it back home'. I assume that the title merely refers to the location of the recording sessions. From the photos in the CD booklet, it appears that Robben continues to use the Epiphone Riviera 'semi' that first appeared on 'Bringing..etc.' and keeps faith with the use of trombone 'to the fore'. The previous album suffered some (in my opinion unjust) criticism for the choice of trombone as accompanying brass. I think it is generally viewed as a brassy 'bass substitute' rather like a tuba. However, as played here by the excellent Barry Green it is a tuneful and interesting addition - it's easy to imagine the trombone parts played by a trumpet (although that would actually be less enjoyable and less appropriate). Certainly, no 'bass substitute' is required when Brian Allen is thumping away on his electric upright - he was with Robben on his UK tour last year and although the instrument looks strangely 'home made' (perhaps it is!) his contribution was both tasteful and dynamic and provided conclusive proof that you can play 'electric blues' without a Fender Jazz Bass strapped on! That contribution continues on this album.
This then, is a pretty straight-ahead Robben Ford blues offering that will be enjoyed by anyone who liked the previous effort. He's broken very little new ground with 'Nashville' but his playing is so good (he's a guitarist who knows what to leave out - a rare quality indeed) and so perfectly fitted to the musical style that the old cliche of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind.
Having said "if it ain't broke etc." I am now going to contradict myself and I've been very mean and deducted one star because this is a continuation of the previous album with nothing really added or changed - but then again 'Bringing it back home' was superb. Perhaps it's a 'four and a half' then!!