On 1-19-19 Do Not Be The Only One Home.

I work with this super chill guy at Costco.  He’s about 6’5, probably 260, bald, black, and from Compton.  Stories of his life, are pretty awesome… especially in Gilbert, Arizona.  So, I’m workin’ and grovin’ away the other day, on about my third listen of Sara Robinson Band‘s BRAND NEW ALBUM “Only Home”.

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Get Your Tickets IMMEDIATELY for the absolute best first party of 2019 HERE !!!

Daryl came up to check on my progress, {which is code for taking a momentary excuse to talk about anything besides work}, and I said, “Hey, listen to this gal sing for a second.”  He bent his ear towards my phone, listening carefully over the background Phoenix Corporate Radio of awfulness and the incessant beep of fork lifts.  A warm smile spread across his ageless face.  After a moment of just listening to Sara Robinson sing, in awe, I asked, “That’s Soul right?  Where does that come from?  How does this cute little pixie of a white girl channel that kind of Aretha Power?”  His answer, as many of his answers are, was awesome.  We have a pretty cool understanding, and talk openly often:

“Soul is a learned sound: it’s not racial.  It never has been, but it is often discussed in those terms.  You ask that young lady what she listened to growing up.  I guarantee you she’s got soul and R&B roots, or her Mama sang in the church choir”

So I asked her, and sent a quick message to Sara:  “Can you give me three influences on you growing up?  I have some guesses, but I am curious.”  I said nothing about the Daryl conversation.

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Shortly, the powerfully charismatic front woman responded:  “Hmmmm, I’d say Bonnie Raitt, Robert Plant, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Ann Wilson, and Chris Cornell.”

I sent a quick text to Daryl with her quote, saying, “Boom.  You were spot on!”

Afterwards, I relayed the story to Sara, to which she responded, “Ha, that is AWESOME, and Accurate!”

As is often the case with some of these really stand out local Arizona bands, I am a bit late to the party.  I have only been Keeping the Greasy Side Down now for about 20 months, and it has been one hella cool ride so far.  But I missed the release of SRB’s debut album.  Additionally, I had not seen them live before Apache Lake Music Festival 2018 where I was there as an assistant to David Cottle/ D2 Photography.  At that point, their debut album If I Cannot Fly, Let Me Sing, was almost a year and a half old.

Released July 15, 2017, the album is a rare achievement, and rather than repeat, nearly exactly the same description, simply allow me to quote the band’s Biography from CDBaby.com 

“Sara Robinson Band is truly a return to the legend of rock. SRB has developed a unique yet familiar sound by mixing the best of the old and the new. Sara’s stage presence and vocal performance is hypnotic, counter balanced by Yod’s killer chaotic mind bending guitar, while PC and Stan hold it all together on the bass and drums making a thunderous rhythm section. it is inevitable that you will feel every song they play. Each member has had great success along their musical journeys and their collective talents definitely make for a super group. The love and excitement between Sara Robinson Band is apparent, and it is only the beginning.”

“If I Cannot Fly, Let Me Sing is seven amazingly epic and deeply felt, masterfully recorded songs available on vinyl, CD, and digital in July 15th 2017. Beautifully recorded vocals and powerful guitars over huge drums and bass define the sound captured by Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Recording, Mesa, AZ. As one of the Phoenix valley’s most prominent producers, Bob captured a rare moment in music history. “

“Their original sound is strangely familiar as you will sometimes place the influence of Zeppelin or Janis or Jimi but can’t say for sure what influence you are hearing because it’s twisted and modern. Muse is a four minute heavy rocker that seems made for radio. Love Love is an epic orchestrated master piece while Moon Song pulls a tear from more than a few listeners. Look for more from this extremely talented and skilled band and for Pete’s sake man go see their show! Believe it.”

For me personally, in my as-of-then, unschooled naivete, I was most excited to see PC Cardone perform for the first time in over 20 years.  In the early to mid 90s, I had seen the recognizable bass player, in his iconic black hat, play with the band Satellite, led by front man, and personal friend, Stephen Ashbrook.  Ashbrook would go on to a successful solo career, but after Satellite, I never had seen PC play again.  He was a staple in town at local shows, and I would often see him, give him a hug, raise a glass, but I was beyond stoked to once again see him, slappa da bass.

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Ignore crazy selfie eyes, por favor.

What I witnessed at ALMF blew me away.  Completely.

So, with an eye on rising to another level of review in 2019, I approached Sara and asked if I could purchase an early copy of Only Home to review.  After the spectacular show I had just witnessed, I was beyond excited to get my hands on the upcoming studio album.  She sent it immediately, and so without further ado….

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Get Your Tickets to The Last Exit Live Release Show on January 19, 2019 !  

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The Ghost Writer Review of Sara Robinson Band: Only Home

You Should Know:  As I launch into the first track of Only Home, I am immediately swept away to the south.  And to the past.  I feel the sweat in the fields, and the gospel/ dirge style chants of the farm workers.  I imagine riding the steaming rails on a railroad of blues past King’s Red Hills of Georgia, and I am amazed at the young, petite blonde singer that is taking me there.  I am reminded once again of my conversation with my friend Daryl, about Soul.  I found an article entitled the Songs of Spirit and Continuity of Consciousness by Joyce Marie Jackson as I researched the topic further.

“The African American gospel idiom has contributed tremendously to Louisiana’s unique musical heritage. It is a synthesis of African American music, dance, poetry, and drama distilled into a unified whole—a culmination of the African American religious and aesthetic experience which reveals strong connecting links to African roots in subtle and sometimes obvious ways. Gospel music is strongly entwined and entrenched in the black “folk” church tradition; however, it also attracts many supporters who identify with its message as much for its expression of African American values, aesthetics, and life experiences as for its expression of religion. Cultural participants in the tradition readily identify the historical, social, cultural and spiritual dimensions of this musical form. These views have been expressed among performers of varying degrees of expertise, experience, and popularity, and among listeners from a wide range of ages, denominational affiliations, and geographic locales. A new gospel music more suited to urban life replaced the rural traditions such as the folk spiritual and gave a sense of pride and hope to those who had recently uprooted themselves in pursuit of a dream which seemed increasingly difficult to attain. African Americans confronted this difficulty through the process of consciously recreating those rituals, continuing those performance practices, and maintaining those values and aesthetics which were at the focal point of their mental and physical survival in the rural South.”

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Keep this Muscle Shoals reference in mind.

“Mississippi Strong…. think I’ll wander down…..” SRB

Now, before you think I have lost my mind and gone into the great nowhere, hear me to my second point.  Listening to You Should Know channeled a modern spin on Bob Dylan, a folk writer, a poet, a man of the people.  And just the fact that I have already gotten to Bob Dylan, specifically his Together Through Life album…. on track one of this album…. SHOULD GIVE YOU PAUSE.

On Together Through Life, Dylan’s mystic-drifter persona of his recent records has moved from the Mississippi Delta to Houston and the U.S.-Mexico borderland.  “You feel things, and you’re not quite sure what you feel,” Dylan says about the region. “But it follows your every move, and you don’t know why. You can’t get out of it. It’s the pressure that’s imposed on us.” The first track of Together Through Life — “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’” — is pure Tex-Mex torque. Already getting a lot of radio play, the song conjures up shiny automobiles rumbling across “boulevards of broken cars” through the vast Rio Grande Valley night. By the second track, “Life Is Hard,” Dylan is wandering past the old schoolyard, looking for strength to fight back the grim tide of old age. A red-brick afterglow lingers in the ballad like in an Edward Hopper painting. A Broadway singer has already recorded a demo of the song; it would be perfect for Diane Reeves or Norah Jones. The third track, “My Wife’s Home Town,” a gloss on the old blues standard “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” echoes the haunting Tom Waits vibe of Mule Variations. Dylan sounds like a phlegmatic Cab Calloway scatting and coughing before the coffin closes. Everything feels condemned. The fiendish specter of suicide is omnipresent: “State gone broke/The county’s dry/Don’t be looking at me with that evil eye.” Dylan even menacingly cackles “a-hah-heh-heh” on the track. “The song is a tribute, not a death chant,” he says. “Deep down, I think that everybody thinks like me sooner or later. They just might not be able to express it.  – From The Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan’s Late Era, Old Style American Individualism

This first track conjures that kind of imagery.  It is alive with that kind of history.  Sara Robinson – is a time machine…. to a sourthern blues dirge, where watching daddy lamenting over that shroud takes us straight to the heart of the blues.

Hear: Seriously folks…. JUST BUY THIS ALBUM.

Yellow Blues:  One of the things I was discussing with Dani Cutler, KWSS 93.9 FM DJ Extraordinaire was Sara Robinson Band’s joyful fusion of talent from across generations. “Just the idea of Sara, Yod, Stan, and PC coming together across several generations of talent is extremely unique.”  Music is indeed timeless, and when it comes to our creative passions, all artists are Peter Pans.

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Sara Robinson jamming with the Enigmatic Marc Norman of The Strolling Bones!

For me, not that the previous two songs do not hit, and get you in the mood right away, quite the contrary.  But when you arrive at exactly minute mark 1:07 of Yellow Blues, and that smashing kick drum jolts you right back to the absolute present, I defy you to not stamp your foot in exaltation as you are swept away.  I do it every single time, a motorcyclist on the freeway all of a sudden smashing my invisible kick drum through the asphalt.  Like a psycho.  Or a Rock star.

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Thanks Konstantin!

It is exactly at this moment that you know you will not be turning this album off until the end of the ride.  What a thunderous fusion of psychedelics that come just close to screaming Pink Floyd comparisons, but then cascade with thunderous echo into driving electric blues that signals a trip to the South and Muscle Shoals!

“The four founders of the studio, Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), Jimmy Johnson (guitar) and David Hood (bass), affectionately called The Swampers,[13] but usually known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, were one of the best-known “house bands” or session musicians. (The nickname “The Swampers” was given to the group by the music producer Denny Cordell during recording sessions for Leon Russell because of their “funky, soulful Southern “swamp” sound”.)[14][2] They are referred to as “The Swampers” in the lyrics of “Sweet Home Alabama” (1974) by Lynyrd Skynyrd and appear on the cover of Cher’s 1969 album 3614 Jackson Highway.[15]  By December 1969, the Rolling Stones were recording at this new location for three days.[19] The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section was the first group of musicians to own a studio and to eventually run their own publishing and production companies. They provided musical backing and arrangements for many recordings, including major hits by Wilson PickettAretha Franklin, and the Staple Singers; a wide range of artists in popular music also recorded hit songs and complete albums at the studio. Their initial successes in soul and R&B led to more mainstream rock and pop performers who began coming to record at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, including the Rolling StonesTrafficBob SegerElton JohnBoz ScaggsWillie NelsonPaul SimonBob DylanDr. HookElkie BrooksMillie JacksonJulian Lennon, and Glenn Frey.- From Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

Maggie: Seriously Just watch the above video again.

Speaking of Muscle Shoals, and the amazing recording in that small studio that changed the sound of music forever: I had a moment to discuss the actual recording of SRB’s Sophomore attempt with Drummer and Recording Engineer, Konstantin Bosch:

“About a year after recording with Bob, we wanted to record a few singles we had written. I asked the band if I could take a stab at it figuring if it wasn’t at the quality we wanted, we could at least use the recordings as demos or for pre-production. We layed down the drum and bass guitar tracks at STEM and I recorded the guitars and vocals in PCs living room. We went with STEM because PC and Curtis Grippe {Yes…. THAT Curtis Grippe!  See what I mean about the legends in this town???} are really close, and a non musician friend of ours gave us a voucher for free recording time that he had won in a raffle. They really liked how the singles turned out. Enough to let me try recording a full album in the same fashion. I’ve been recording since about 2005 and produced 5 of the 6 The Woodworks records. This was the first time I tried recording the rhythm section of the band at a nice studio (with an amazing drum room) and piecing the rest together. That approach yielded amazing results! We also didn’t have to spend any money on it and were able to take our time with overdubs and mixing.”

How Long:  After only taking four songs to reach a near crescendo, the pulsing heartbeat of PC’s bass guitar brings us back down into the my favorite poem of the record.  The lyrics of this song, hearkening back to the title of SRB’s first album, seek to define the lasting and unifying power of music.  Those gospel roots, and Soul rhythms give way to a sonic wonder-wall of distorted subdued vocals and an absolutely crazy Yod guitar solo at about 2:10.

If my melody could heal I would

If all I have to do is sing  I should

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Indeed, Girl.  Indeed.

I Already Know:  Yod brings out the steal guitar, and Sara Robinson sings with a soft soulful growl that sinks into our hearts like a blues icon from another generation.  But even as one of the “slow” songs on the record, its shifts in time and emotion again showcase the strengths of SRB’s song arrangement talent.  Once again, proving the generational gaps present on stage…. are invisible on the air waves.

Castles:  Arguably my favorite song on the record, Castles brings every strength that we have come to expect from SRB into sharp focus in one recording.  Sonically soaring vocals.  Shifting time signatures.  Pounding percussion and deep, swelling bass rifts.  Shredding guitar that almost acts like a second vocalist, punctuating the emotion to a place that sticks for so much longer than the track plays.

In the caverns of your thoughts I’ve become so lost

Oh What Am I?

In the castles of my heart I want to fly

I’m reaching for the stars

So soon I will fly away

And everything about the phenomenal sound quality of this record sweeps us away, flying, and souring, reaching for something once seen as unachievable.  The album becomes a soaring, triumphant tribute to hope.

Why:  Returning again to the topic of Blues underlying the Psychedelics and Electricity of SRB’s sound, I am once again reminded of the groundbreaking work done at Muscle Shoals, and it’s stunning effect on music.  “What music built there is not something that you can see with your eye,” Bono explains at the end of the Muscle Shoals documentary. “In fact, if you look at the recording studios, they were humble shells. But what they contained was an empire that crossed race and creed and ethnicity. It was revolutionary.”

From The Bluegrass Situation.com, this article underscores the importance of soul, R&B, and its absolute prevalence across the genres of music.

“Attempts to codify the “Muscle Shoals sound,” which fueled a plethora of rhythm and blues hits in the ‘60s and ‘70s, often result in anthropomorphizing. Musicians, producers, and fans alike refer to its heart, its pulse, its gut, and, above all, its soul. Originating in the Shoals — a group of small towns located along the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama — it drew musical heavyweights like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan.”

Sara Robinson in like Muscle Shoals, channeled through Bonnie Raitt and Pink Floyd, and transported to Arizona.

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Get Gone:  A close second for my top pick of the record, if you want a great moment in your day, catch me on the Arizona Highways when this song comes pounding into my helmet!  I absolutely become a one man, biker, rock band to a tune nobody else can hear. It is amazing, but this song…. whew, I just can’t help it.

“That pounding, head bobbing chorus hits, and I am sure I just turn into the biggest public fool in Phoenix… and I don’t even care!

Sara Robinson makes you wanna dance!

Only Home:  After the sound of birds, and tropics, and waterfalls, and sonic distortions, wind to a close (careful if you are wearing PowerBeats3 Headphones BTW)…. all you want to do with this album, is listen to it again.  It is fantastic.  Frankly, just the musical comparisons, names, and influences that this article has brought up, while discussing a Sara Robinson Band album….. should really make you say, “Hmmmm”.

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And be sure to tune into KWSS 93.9 FM Friday morning, January 18th, for Dani Cutler’s LIVE interview with Sara Robinson to get you all pumped for the Saturday Party NOT TO MISS!

Seriously, start the year off right and get yourself tickets to this weekend’s show RIGHT NOW.  You will not regret it!  Last Exit Live  January 19, 2019.

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Keep the Greasy Side Down, Amigos.

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Published by Gho5tWriter

Arizona Enthusiast. Writer. Rider. Dreamer.

2 thoughts on “On 1-19-19 Do Not Be The Only One Home.

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