Release Date: Jun 22, 2010
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Gospel, Contemporary Christian, Religious
Most people weren’t sure what to expect when emo icons Taking Back Sunday reinstated their original lineup in 2010, seven years after guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper left the band. However the time apart seems to have been a blessing in disguise—and the members’ musical and personal growth is evident on everything from melodic anthems like “Best Places To Be A Mom” to moody meditations such as “This Is All Now.” Anyone worried that the last decade had dulled TBS’ edge, a listen to the post-hardcore rager “El Paso” confirms that it’s never been sharper. JONAH BAYER .
Even though Robert Randolph & the Family Band had already become famous for blending gospel, blues, and contemporary styles on their first two albums, they decided to bring that same sort of syncretism to their source material for the third, We Walk This Road. Toward that end, they brought in producer T-Bone Burnett, a man who knows a thing or two about reconciling American roots music with the modern world. The results succeed in extending the group's scope in a way that matches its sound.
The Road. It’s not always a pretty place. Just ask musicians: Bob Seger had to “Turn the Page”; Jackson Brown was “Running on Empty”; Sammy Hagar couldn’t “Drive 55”. Tenacious D’s Jack Black sums it up best: “The road is fuckin’ hard / The road is fuckin’ tough / There’s no question that / It is rough, rough stuff.” Remember, it’s a Stairway to Heaven”, not a street.
String-slinger takes two steps forward, one step back Sacred steel maestro Robert Randolph seems destined to play a big tent. With his scorching virtuosity and a devotional background (the Pentecostal church supplied his earliest musical influences) his cross-platfrom appeal makes him equally suitable for Bonnaroo, blues fests and SportsCenter promos; recent years have seen him burning off Hendrix covers with the Roots as comfortably as he opened for B.B. King.
Singer and guitarist ?Robert Randolph set out to explore a century of American roots music on this (mostly) covers album, We Walk This Road. He may have misread his compass, given the inclusion of ?”I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama” by Brit John Lennon. But producer T Bone Burnett brings a sense of consistency, and Ben Harper helps out on a handsome revamp of Blind Willie Johnson’s ”If I Had My Way.” B? Download These:Laid-back I Still Belong to Jesus at amazon.comSalvation, featuring Leon Russell at amazon.com See all of this week’s reviews .
ROBERT RANDOLPH AND THE FAMILY BAND We Walk This Road (WARNER BROS. ) Rating: Having taken the long route from little-known gospel artist to the Jimi Hendrix of sacred steel, Robert Randolph is the rare musician who has managed to carve out a unique place in the American music continuum with little more than hard work and musicianship. Still, those prodigious gifts come with a price, as such virtuosity often threatens to drown out everything else in such an artist’s creative sphere, reducing an otherwise multifaceted musician to a caricature of nimble fingers and deft technical flourishes.