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Monday, May 2, 2016

Local favorite produces another gem

Thursday, May 6, 2010

You pop a CD in the player to be greeted by a flourish of horns and organ. Add some guitar and a rhythm section, and the beautiful music is soon joined by the voice of a world-class soul singer.

No, you haven't accidentally grabbed one of your old Al Green or Otis Redding CDs off the rack. It's the new record from Greencastle resident Tad Robinson.

"Back in Style" is due out on Severn Records on May 18. The similarity to soul music of the '60s and '70s is no accident.

"The Holy Grail for musicians who play roots music and play soul music is the Hi sound -- the Hi label that produced the Al Green stuff and Otis Clay and Ann Peebles and all those great artists," Robinson said.

"We're happy that there's some kind of comparison being made because that's what we're really looking to create," he added. "We want to make it forward-looking, but we also want to have it as kind of an homage to Stax and Hi -- Al Green, Otis Clay and all that stuff."

The folks at Severn are wise enough to learn from the past, taking a similar approach to making music as the titan labels of soul's golden era.

"Severn has a house band in the same way that Hi did and Stax did and Motown, for that matter," Robinson said. "They are kind of doing a similar thing where they have a house band and a house horn section and then they bring in singers and they match up singers with some good material. But that band is their Rock of Gibralter."

The outcome is an album that immediately catches the ear with opening track "Rained All Night." The music starts and it's immediately reminiscent of the Green classic "Tired of Being Alone."

It doesn't stop there. From the agony and head games of songs like "Just Out of My Reach" and "Half Smile" to the happiness of "Sunday Morning Woman" and "I'm in Good," the tracks cover a lot of ground. Robinson's voice is up to the challenge throughout, smooth as honey when it needs to be and tortured when the song calls for it.

It's that voice Greencastle listeners should acknowledge to be a local treasure. Robinson may have grown up in Manhattan (New York, not Putnam County), but he now has strong ties right here. It's a joy to have a talent like this here in the community.

My spin: B+

Robinson's "Back In Style" is a reminder of what a voice he has and what good music is being made at Severn Records. There's really nothing to dislike about this collection.

Standouts on the record include "Rained All Night," "Sunday Morning Woman" and "Get Back to Love" are all standouts. "You Name It I've Had It" and "Just Out of My Reach" are both excellent covers of classic tunes.

The whole record is good, though. It's one to simply put on and play straight through.

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