Opening with Baptise Me we are drenched in a gospel-infused soulful sound the defining mood of Robert Randolph & The Family Band on Brighter Days opening three numbers. What a start, uplifting your musical soul on a grey day the sunshine of harmonies and deep horns act as a ray of spiritual sunshine. The textured layering of tonal glory is stepped up with the holler that spreads through Cut Em Loose with the fervour of a hot gospel. Halfway through the beat deepens and the tone changes as we are walking fast as the biscuits are in the oven… keeping the gospel/holler interchange.
Phew! What a start with Simple Man the tempo slows and the instrumentation and vocals are simplified. This is deep dark blues, thought-provoking and the pedal steel guitar playing weeps and wails a perfect foil to the deep moody vocals from Randolph. This cover from Pops Staple and the Staple singers is sublime. As the album mellows into the funk-infused Have Mercy, the lap steel leads into Randolph’s vocals that are warm add depth as they are joined by his sister Lenesha in a duet with harmonizing that picks up the rhythms supplied by his cousins Danyel & Marcus; this is truly a family celebration of music that has shaped their lives. The sound gets gritty with a swampy, grungy edge on Cut Em Loose, again the interplay between the family is joyous. The music just keeps giving as your mood swings out with joy and your feet demand you to dance and those hips to swing, this is energised Blues filled soulful gospel pulled into a party sound on Second Hand Man what a celebration of a good feel sound. Producer, Dave Cobb has blended the complexities of tonal textures into a glorious free-form delivery of the music with passion and freedom of expression,
Lenesha takes control of the vocals on Cry Over Me as her voice drives the song, creating the space for guitar lead breaks from Robert that are moments in time you want to capture forever. The slower pace continues as Robert’s vocals are mellow and the backing vocals underscore the total sound on I Need You, a poetic love ballad as the flower needs the rain that captures the purity of the delivery that is almost a hymn extolling the reasons I Need You. The tempo stirs with I’m Living Off the Love You Give, this is soul that has something to say in its modernity. As the album closes this penultimate track is an imposing example of soul that sparkles for the here and now.
Closing out the album with Strange Train, we have the power of the fuzz pedal as this rocking number pulls together the tonal shaping on Brighter Days; harking back to the past but firmly rooted in the rocking now of contemporary sound. The music has travelled from church to concert hall as the album progressed and Robert Randolph’s personal journey is captured in the music.
This album reflects the grounding of Randolph’s music as he grew up playing sacred steel music. In the House of God Church in Orange New Jersey, he played gospel on a pedal steel guitar. The sound has a dirty edge that makes this blending of traditional beats and melodies contemporary, exciting and very relevant. In dark times you need music that is upbeat and lifts the mood. As we find Brighter Days with Robert Randolph & The Family Band on his latest Album.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Baptise Me
- Don’t Fight It
- Simple Man
- Have Mercy
- Cut Em Loose
- Second Hand Man
- Cry Over Me
- I Need You
- I’m Living Off the Love You Give
- Stranage Train
Robert Randolph – Vocals, Pedal Steel Guitar
Danyel Morgan – Bass
Marcus Randoloph – Drums
Lenesha Randolph – Vocals