The window tab description says, “Meanwhile in CRB – Phosphorescent Harvest”. With the Crowes back out on tour for a bit in 2013, meant that Chris and the Brotherhood were taking a little hiatus of their own. But, knowing that this band was just getting their sea legs on, there certainly was and is more time out at sea planned by the captain and his crew. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s latest release has you wanting to rest your weary feat, grab a beer, and pick up the pieces of your scattered mind. This is their third release on Silver Arrow Records since 2011 (Big Moon Ritual and The Magic Door, both released in 2012), and, with Phosphorescent Harvest, we are presented with colorful sounds to mess with your head, to get you out of your mind, on a trip to space, where things get real…… phosphorescent. “Emitting light without appreciable heat as by slow oxidation. A luminescence that is caused by the absorption of radiations and continues for a noticeable time after these radiations have stopped.” Yeah, like an afterglow. Sounds about right.
The band remains Chris Robinson, fearless freaky leader on vocals and guitar, Neal Casal, lonely lead guitar, Adam MacDougall on all things keyboards and outer space, Mark “Muddy” Dutton keeping the bass deep and, well, a little muddy, and George Sluppick tucking it all inside the groovy pocket on drums. All of the boys, minus George, handle the harmonies and back-up that raspy, funky, bluesy, commanding vocal box Robinson was born with. Not to be compared with the rock and roll of The Black Crowes (why compare, right?), CRB has a different drive to it, rather a more free spirit, more improvisational taste, a feeling of throwing caution to the wind, hopping onto the magic carpet and going on a space adventure.
From the first note of, “Shore Power”, you could sense the direction of where they were taking this – somewhere into the deep crevices of your trippy mind. They give you songs with that quick paced rolling americana feel – like “Badlands Here We Come” (the rolling beat, the dueling guitars, the eeriness of the keyboards, harkens back to a time in the south, a time when outlaws were king), or “Clear Blue Sky & The Good Doctor”; or, some are just taking you on a psychedelic space ride – “Shore Power” and “Meanwhile in the Gods….”; and, when the ride is done, you get to sip on a slow melancholy song – “About a Stranger” and “Wanderer’s Lament”; or maybe you still have the energy to go struttin’ down rock ‘n roll street or hanging in some cross-town bar with songs like “Beggar’s Moon”, “Tornado” or “Jump the Turnstile”. Wait, that one fits into the psychedelic space ride…. yup, one odd, synthesized and quirky sound for certain.
“Clear Blue Sky & The Good Doctor” is one that can have a little something for everyone, can’t just put it under one of the above descriptions, as it is almost two different songs. Starting out with the americana, story-teller bend, but then the mid-point to this song gets real eerie as the notes become very visual. Close your eyes and you are beginning to float up through the trees, you can hear the birds sing as you pass them by, higher and higher, soaring above the earth, dancing with the clouds, basking in the warmth of the sun or the light of the moon.
With visual lyrics like, “You’re never alone if there is thunder and rain, the wonder of love, the weakness of love, makes us all the same. …. let the water wash it all away.”, it is easy to let your imagination paint you a musical picture. And that is what it feels like to listen to “Wanderer’s Lament”, it’s the warmth of the chords, the soulfulness of Neal’s guitar, and lightness of Adam’s piano, together with that voice, that breath Chris sings with sometimes…… it conjures up images of a light misty rain or a gentle, trickling waterfall washing over you. Neal also shines bright on “Tornado”, as he took my spirit and soul away; it reminded me of one guitar player whose style has the ability to lead you to a little slice of heady heaven and leave you floating like a shiny particle in the atmosphere.
Whether it’s Chris’ voice or rhythm guitar, Neal Casal’s lead riffs, twists, and slides, or how Adam fills in the gaps between the guitar leads and steady rhythms with sounds your body can’t help but to react to (he hits you right in the head, stretching your ears out wide, maybe even giving them a little tickle now and again), CRB has put together a release to please all Heads. Phosphorescent Harvest includes ten songs*, three of which have been shared and recorded live in 2012 (“Badlands Here We Come”, “Tornado” and “Jump the Turnstile”). With tastes of americana or rock and roll, visions of mystic stars in outer space, or a warmth that melts you down to the center of melancholy, this third release from Chris Robinson Brotherhood shows a development of the writing and collaboration of Robinson and Casal, as well as the connection of all in the Brotherhood. That magic lantern they’ve been rubbin’ is gonna release smoke and incense into your mind, through all the nooks and crannies of your cranium, and shine the light on your imagination. Burn Slow people, Burn Slow.
But not too slow. You don’t want to miss this tour– check it out, see if they are stopping at a town near you!
Phosphorescent Harvest (Release date April 29, 2014 on Silver Arrow Records)
1. Shore Power
2. About a Stranger
3. Meanwhile in the Gods…
4. Badlands Here We Come
5. Clear Blue Sky & The Good Doctor
6. Beggar’s Moon
7. Wanderer’s Lament
9. Jump the Turnstile
10. Burn Slow
*Bonus track on CD: Humboldt Wind Chimes; Bonus tracks on 7” LP: Humboldt Wind Chimes and Star-crossed Lonely Sailor