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Published: 2014/06/25
by Brian Robbins

Rich Robinson
The Ceaseless Sight

The End Records

Rich Robinson’s new solo album The Ceaseless Sight is a unique piece of work – an uplifting collection of tunes that comes with an inescapable contact high. The concept of an album crafted from positive vibes usually conjures up visions of smiley face emoticons and saccharine-laced, empty-cored melodies – but The Ceaseless Sight proves you can have your meat ‘n’ taters and soul food, as well.

The Ceaseless Sight is the soundtrack of Robinson having boiled life down to its essence, finding total happiness in his roles of husband and father, and applying life lessons learned to his music.

Oh – and just in case you’re reading these words and interpreting them as any sort of loss of edge, fire up The Ceaseless Sight and let the opening track, “I Know You”, knock you on your ass and dispel those thoughts. “I Know You” is all wump-thumping drum beats (Robinson’s chum Joe Magistro), guitars a’chuggin’ and wailin’ (Rich and Rich and more Rich), syrupy bass weavings (Rich again), and Marco Benevento banging the keys like he’s channeling Ian Stewart and Nicky Hopkins. The track sets the mood for the whole album: there’s a whole lot of needless burden shrinking in Rich Robinson’s rearview mirror as he throttles up – and a very cool place on the horizon ahead.

Returning to Woodstock’s Applehead Recording (where he laid down 2011’s Through A Crooked Sun ), Robinson made use of a familiar vibe, going into the sessions with skeletons of songs and working through grooves and inspirations with co-conspirator Magistro. Along with Benevento, who plays keys for much of the album (Steve Molitz applies lovely swirls of organ to “Down The Road”), the only other guests are vocalists Katrine Ottosen (who adds just-right vocals to one tune) and Amy Helm (the perfect addition to two more).

Forget any comparisons to brother Chris’ recent solo output: all you need to know is that Rich Robinson has evolved into a master of positive messages that come loaded with everything from droopy-lidded bliss (the fresh-air-and-dulcimer-fueled “One Road Hill”) to Family Stone-style funk (the skwonky goo of “Inside”); from Exile-ish gospel (“The Giving Key”, featuring a magnificent soul-wringing guitar solo by Robinson) to a cool Beat beat that somehow melds Dylan and M.C. Escher (“Trial And Faith”).

Though Robinson’s things with strings have been his primary voices over the years, here we experience him as soulman (“I Remember”) and solid rocker (“I Know You”). “I Have A Feeling” offers a sweetness that George Harrison would’ve loved; “In Comes The Night” swings from creaky-porch intimacy to soaring, roaring majesty; and “Obscure The Day” brings things full-circle with the sun setting on a place of peace.

In the end, the best reason to listen to The Ceaseless Sight is a simple one: it’s a wonderful album to get lost in … and come out the other side feeling good.

*****

Brian Robbins sits on a creaky porch over at www.brian-robbins.com

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