Through a Crooked Sun
Circle Sound Records
Black Crowes guitarist
Rich Robinson’s sophomore solo effort,
Through a Crooked Sun, opens up with a lazy
vibe, riding on the psychedelic-tinged swagger
of “Lost and Found.” Midway through
the disc, however, brighter melodies and
tones emerge as the instrumentation gets
punchier. Despite this slow, subtle shift, the
album functions as a congruous set of songs
anchored by one person.
The momentum starts to build with “I
Don’t Hear the Sound of You,” an acoustic
strummer with a surprisingly jazzy instrumental
section. Robinson handles all the
guitar and bass work, and even dabbles in
organ on a few tracks, most notably on the
near-seven-minute “Follow You Forever.”
Throughout the album, Robinson strategically
employs his blues chops, though it
appears the folk-inspired Robinson wanted
a stripped-down feel for Crooked Sun, as the
chords and percussion could easily branch
off into epic rock jams. Robinson’s masterful
playing and ability to find the right outlets
give the song skeletons both supple flesh
and deep soul.
Other memorable moments include
“Hey Fear,” for its lingering melody (the
album certainly isn't lacking in good melodies,
but this one really stays in the head).
The guitar firepower increases on “Bye Bye
Baby,” with Warren Haynes contributing
slinky slide licks while Larry Campbell contributes
ethereal pedal-steel work.
On “Station Man,” Robinson dishes out
crunchy chords and arpeggios dotted with
vocal calls and responses, but still keeps
things from veering too far from the point.
The lyrics are fresh and thoughtful—poetic
even—but not drenched in sadness.
In general, the quieter Robinson
brother's voice is pleasant and soft-spoken—more singer/songwriter-like than
what you'd expect from, say, his work with
the Crowes. While his solo debut, 2004's
Paper, was a heavier, more riff-oriented
experiment, Crooked Sun benefits from
calculated subtleness that's wholly different
from the side he shows with the Crowes—even though he's such a huge part of that
Despite being known primarily as a veteran
guitarist, Robinson admirably pulls off
a triple-threat of feeling in epic riffs, great
singing, and interesting lyrics. As a result,
the songs stand on their own, rather than
coming across as songs written as a showcase
for a guitar player.
“Bye Bye Baby” and