Colorblind Still Energetic Despite Unoriginal Lyrics
- Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Robert Randolph & The Family Band started as critics' darlings with its 2002 debut, Live at The Wetlands.
Its swampy sound, built around Randolph's pedal steel guitar, has evolved through its follow-up, Unclassified, into a progressively more accessible mix of bluesy rock and pop as its jam-band live shows earned it the opening slot for Dave Matthews Band, among others.
Matthews and violinist Leroi Moore join the crew here for "Love Is the Only Way," and, though the collaboration seems a lukewarm one at first, several listens find it improving. Part of Colorblind's accessibility enhancement is its guest list, including soulstress Leela James and guitar hero Eric Clapton.
The best cuts, though, are all Randolph and family. "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That" and the single, "Thrill of It All," are both top-down, rolling-down-the-highway jams. The latter sounds more than a little like dc Talk's "Mind's Eye." Randolph must be quite a fan because "Deliver Me" also sports dc Talk's influence; and he and Clapton revisit the Doobie Brothers' "Jesus Is Just Alright," famously covered on "Free at Last." What a kick to hear Eric Clapton singing the "Jesus, He's my friend" bridge. "Angels" is a pop-meets-neo-soul-with-a-little-simmering-guitar-thrown-in slow burner - a charming, VH1-ready gem. And the Family goes full-on gospel with "Blessed."
If many of those titles sound rather familiar, they are; you'd struggle to find much originality in the lyrics department. "Thankful N' Thoughtful" and "Homecoming" quickly grow monotonous, though the former does allow Randolph a lengthy guitar jam. But, on balance, this is an energetic, fun record - perhaps better suited to a summer road trip than for fall. It seems geared to boosting the band's profile and keeping the accolades rolling in.
© 2006 CCM Magazine. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Click here to subscribe.
Be sure to check out Robert Randolph & The Family Band music videos at Godtube.com.
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