Back when he was the six-string hotshot bringing his sizzling tones and textures to Procol Harum, Robin Trower’s lead vocals were compared unfavourably to Gary Brooker’s. As a solo artist, meanwhile, his fretboard fluency and compositional drama has often shone brightest in the songs he’s written for other singers.
This album’s 2015 companion piece, Something’s About To Change, signalled that, after a lifetime listening, learning and playing, he was ready to go it alone.
The 2014 loss to cancer of his wife Andrea must surely be ingrained in these self-written songs. Certainly, the heightened air of mortality that emerged on Seven Moons (Trower’s thrilling 2008 collaboration with the also-recently passed Jack Bruce) is once again apparent. Opener Ain’t No Use To Worry here introduces a wise, wounded mood. It’s a simple but ineluctable blues; a wizened voice warns against brooding, and sets off the soul-flailing Strat scream and ache he’s long since patented. The compacted compositional craft of Jigsaw gives full vent to both lyrical and musical curiosity, in a slow-burning, pared-to-the-bone meditation.
Modern-day immigrant lament When Will The Next Blow Fall underscores how empathy is just as integral to Trower’s art as self-expression. The graceful longing of We Will Be Together ties both qualities together, raw production foregrounding the heady atmosphere created by Trower’s restless but plangent lead lines.
As befits a lifelong James Brown fan, Trower’s determination to advance is dynamically charged. With life lessons, impassioned eloquence and funky profundity as guides, his blues still travel deep.