The End [Release date 03.06.14]
Rich Robinson’s ‘The Ceaseless Sight’ gently washes over you, invites you to immerse yourself in its deep textures and lyrical reflection, leaving you with a gentle uplifting feeling of having shared Rich’s heartfelt feelings and musical vision.
It’s a slow burning album that brings rich reward with repeated plays. The mix of subtle grooves, intricate acoustic wash, undulating melodies, nuanced harmonies, shifting guitar tones and a constant strong percussive undertow make ‘The Ceaseless Sight’ one of those albums that demands your time and patience.
Robinson has that rare ability to mould his lyrics with his music so they become intertwined, particularly so on the uplifting ‘Trial and Faith’ where the percolating percussion drives the song to a guitar driven conclusion. After a meandering journey it acts like the bursting of the damn, as the song’s celebratory feel is given extra heft by the gnawing guitar line, and though its not the concluding track – that belongs to the Family influenced acoustic instrumental outro ‘Obscure The Day’- it could just as easily have been.
‘The Ceaseless Sight’ comprises a dozen tracks recorded in Woodstock, and essentially cut by Rich and his drummer Joe Magistro – perhaps explaining the strong percussive presence – with additional help from keyboard player Marco Benevento.
‘The Ceaseless Sight’ isn’t so much a linear and coherent journey as an interlinked set of songs that draw from the same musical source and spiritual well. It’s a reflective album on which Rich Robinson seeks to put the past behind him (perhaps both his personal life and The Black Crowes) and looks forward to the future with a sense of optimism.
This is most clearly evident on the carefree lyrics and country tinged ‘Down The Road’, while the Crosby Stills Nash & Young meets the Fleet Foxes style harmonies of ‘One Road Hill’, leads to the conclusion that: “With a pristine kiss a luminous lift an elemental plan that’ll bring me peace.” On the doomy lyrics and muscular groove of ‘This Unfortunately Show’, he summarises things with the perfunctory line: “It’s time to pack up and move far away.”
Everything on this album is neatly balanced out, from the musical ebbs and flows to the song content, with ‘This Unfortunate Show’ being a counterweight to the preceding, languid and Stones influenced county-rock love song ‘The Giving Key’. Rich sings it with Leon Helm’s (The Band) daughter Amy Helm, so reconnecting the project with its Woodstock recording location.
The funky ‘Inside’ has a hypnotic feel, part Jackson Browne vocals and part Neil Young style distorted guitars, while there’s a further significant nod to the thematic concept of the album as a whole, on the Little Feat influenced ‘I Have A Feeling’. This beautifully constructed track is full of nuanced wah-wah slide and close to the mice enunciation and sumptuous phrasing, as Rich amplifies his core concern: “Wide awake we’ll move letting go of the old and looking towards the new.”
By the time of the slow building ‘In You’, you are either hooked, reeled in and totally immersed in Rich’s optimistic contemplation or at the very least you try again, proving the best things in life are not always the most immediately obvious. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Rich Robinson UK tour dates (November 2014)
Wed 12th, Islington Academy, London
Thurs 13th, Cardiff, Globe
Fri 14th, Club Academy, Manchester
Sat 15th, Cockpit, Leeds
Mon 17th, Robin, Bilston
Tue 18th, ABC2, Glasgow
Wed 19th, Cluny, Newcastle
Thurs 20th, Live Rooms, Chester
Fri 21st, Concorde 2, Brighton
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