It was at last year’s BluesFest that David Robinson realised he might be getting somewhere. The 25-year-old acoustic troubadour – trading as The Cold Heart Revue – was deep into his daytime set at London’s O2 when he looked out and spotted festival headliner Derek Trucks. “I was playing Stop The Hunt, the slide showcase that I do,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘I’m gonna go all-out, throw the kitchen sink at it.’ As he walked past, he gave me the thumbs-up. The idea that I could do something he would respond to, that was brilliant. I was in a bit of a daze – and made a hash of the next song!”
Right now, The Cold Heart Revue is everybody’s favourite hot-tip. Following that BluesFest performance, our inbox pinged with endorsements, while praise has also been thrown down from the gods of showbiz Valhalla, including Rod Stewart, Michael Caine and Chris Barber. Even Ginger Baker likes him: in April, The Cold Heart Revue should have been on a shop-window tour as support to the irascible Cream man, had health issues not scuppered the jaunt. “It’s so sad,” sighs Robinson. “I saw him at [London’s] the Borderline in January and he still had it.”
It’s a setback, but don’t expect it to keep Robinson down for long. The Cold Heart Revue has pounded out a reputation on the live circuit, Robinson commanding the stage with little more than a mic and an acoustic guitar. “I suppose there’s an element of High Noon to walking out on stage with just an acoustic,” he says. “There’s nowhere to hide. It’s quite cool in that way, because every single note is really exposed. It’s a tough instrument.”
Robinson has taken his time to deliver his debut EP, First Picture On The Wall. “You only get one shot at a first release,” he reasons. But it’s worth the wait, showcasing piercing vocals, ear-popping slide and songcraft that strives beyond cliché. “Blues doesn’t have to sound like you know what’s coming next,” he says. “I was desperate not to write the same song four times.”
The pick is You’re A Picture On A Wall, which snipes at the creep of technology. “A lot of things don’t really exist any more,” he says. “It’s just a virtual thing on a screen. There was a quote I read the other day, that nobody makes a list of the Top 10 websites they should look at before they die. This EP is a proper record, nothing was overly processed. It’s just someone in a room playing stuff.”
If that seems dismissive, then it’s typical of Robinson, apparently the only person who doesn’t believe his own hype. “I heard this great Freddie King album the other day, [1974’s] Burglar,” he says. “He was quite old then. It was his second-to-last album. But it’s just so creative. You listen to that and you think, ‘Wow, I’m really just beginning. I’m nowhere near…’”
The First Picture On The Wall EP is out now on Peace And Rock.