Robin Trower – Something’s About to Change

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Something’s about to change… but it hasn’t changed yet?  It’s an interesting title, as if things are going to be markedly different.  Not here, though.  Just excellent songs by a guitar legend who plies his wares masterfully.

I really do like Bridge of Sighs, Trower’s influential 1974 album that helped define the power trio of guitar, bass and drums for many rock and roll acts to follow.  It’s full of great songs that continue to dominate his live shows as well as any discussion about this guitarist.

But I came late to the party, starting with 2009’s What Lies Beneath, my soundtrack for a trek into California’s Death Valley.   Purity of tone, precision of expression with his vibrato technique, and an audible search for something different, if not greater, than where he’d been before.  And that was, all things considered, only a “good” album. 

But something changed around then, too.  Maybe it was microphone placement, maybe it was better recording equipment, maybe it was improved guitar gear like his signature “RTO Overdrive” (which he describes as “a little more drive without losing the clarity of the note.  There’s no mush”), but translating his sound to his recorded output became ear candy – his guitar has a voice so directly heard that it speaks its emotion without distraction.

And from there, we get 2010’s The Playful Heart, which is my favorite, and Roots and Branches, a fine album of cover songs.  The guy is 70, and he’s making great music.  Given his wife’s passing, this quote speaks of devotion to his craft and to the future of it, “I still enjoy making music.  I practically live for playing the guitar.”  That passion is heard here. 

What hasn’t changed is a great collection of songs, nicely tracked to alternate between moderate and slow, both of which allow for ample guitar, either in nuance or lead.  Lyrically, he’s also sound, with nothing overreaching but also with no filler content.  It’s obvious that this CD was a labor of love.

What has changed is 1) he plays the bass, aptly, of course, and 2) he sings every song on the album.  The latter is, in my mind, great.  Could he hire someone to sing it better?  Maybe.  But this is a giant step forward for him in terms of confidence, and he meets the challenge.  His voice suits the work at hand, as does the entire production.  “I can’t remember ever being so happy with a finished album before,” speaks volumes about where he is as an artist.

Regrettably, there’s no “killer” song on this CD to draw in the curious.  The quality varies depending if one likes faster more than slower or if a tune fills the space where the listener lives, but even weaker arrangements give an opportunity for his guitar expressions which make all of it more than listenable.

Favorite tracks, then: Title track, “Dreams that Shone Like Diamonds,” and “Strange Love” and “Gold to Grey”

4 of 5 STARS_thumb

 

 

 

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