The Procol Harum guitarist and vocalist ROBIN TROWER has been busy.
He will release his new studio album “Where You Are Going To” next month [May 6] as well as starting a 13 date tour this fall with Stevie Nimmo. He is currently gigging in North America.
Trower’s new release is a continuation from his 2015 Something’s About to Change. In fact, he only stopped the recording process to go on tour.
“I like to play guitar for 2 or 3 hours a day…” He explained, “And that invariably leads to a new song idea every few days…”
On the new album, he said —
“In terms of influences […] I was channelling a combination of James Brown and John Lee Hooker on the funky “The Fruits of Your Desire” and the album closer “Delusion Sweet Delusion”… I am really looking forward to playing those live on tour.”
TROWER also wrote two love songs dedicated to his late wife, “We Will be Together Someday” and “I’m Holding On To You.” She died after a long illness, in February of 2014.
We listened to the new album —
It is not surprising that the songs on this disc have a heavy hearted sense of urgency… as if the advancing years will soon snap up and munch the 71 year old guitarist, like a maliciously pursuing alligator.
Thus the first track, “When Will the Next Blow Fall” feels omniscient and slightly portentous.
This song could be seen as a “time running out” number for the musician — but to us it seems to be about the misery and pain that victims must go through in war-torn places of crisis like Syria.
The lyrics are distressing — although the pace is not unpromising. The wah pedal creates warm tones and some of these rhythms paddle-tramp as if they are escaping. The long-vowels in that gravel-voice are downbeat (without being gloomy) and the words are slightly sandy. Imagine Mark Knopfler was performing “All Along the Watchtower” and you’ll get some idea of what this is like.
That previous song burns into the scar-tissue of the next track “Where You Are Going To” like a tobacco burn. This song is filled with dust-storm minerals — as if blackened by uncontrollable climatic shifts and dirty skies.
It also seems Dylanesque. Not without joy, but nevertheless solemn, thoughtful and reflective. The lyrics are handled very well, like a petitionary prayer. Maybe this is about capitulation. Maybe it’s about admitting that we have no control over what is coming…
The rundown end is looming and there’s nothing we can do. But all hope is not lost. To this end, the guitar pleads for our forgiveness. And any grief that still remains is handled with modesty and gentle decorum. The rhythms waft in rivulets. Like spasms in time. So this number gives up its energy and release… with sensible notions of salvation drilling deep into bones and flesh.
The track “The Fruits of Your Desire” combines the joy and boppiness of pavilion funk-soul with the serious resolution of a blues jam i.e. Trower — ever the alchemist — transmutes something that is funkadelically James Brown into something that has more in common with the aggressive sound of rock. This is a stand-out track.
“We Will Be Together Someday” is reminiscent of Sonny Bono’s soul sounds. Long bones of guitar curve towards the rib. This might be characterized by sadness, but it is not inconsolable. It just melts away your heart while you listen.
The final track “Delusion Sweet Delusion” is a merry jig with a groovy beat and boogie-down atmosphere. But, though this song is filled with optimistic upward strokes and some good-time vibes, it still retains an affecting inner pain. As if life is a burden. But, soon, spiritual relief will arrive.
“Take triumph and disaster …” says Trower, “and treat them both the same …”
This is a splendid achievement. The songs sparkle and light up in all the right places. And you never feel sadness or depression creeping through the veins.
In fact, there is a revitalizing freshness to it all. Joy and hope seeps from every fibre…
This is a baptismal album …. full of life-giving waters and prayers for the soul …
Very highly recommended.