Artist: Rich Robinson
Label: Eagle Rock
Release Date: 02/26/2016
It’s quite refreshing to get a bolus dose of bluesy guitar rock in the current time of computerized hip-hop gonzo pop. And if we have to go back 12 years to get it, well, so be it. The rerelease of Rich Robinson’s first solo effort Paper, despite its lack of popularity or musical innovation, comes at just the right time. Burned out on the current musical diet? The Black Crowes lead guitarist has just the thing.
Historically speaking, Paper was recorded during The Black Crowes’ first hiatus, a significant time for the band. Lead vocalist Chris Robinson had already released two solo albums, and brother Rich was soon to follow with Paper. The clearest hallmark of the album is the freedom from the Crowes that Rich explores. A lot of the album would makes good Crowes songs, but Rich also takes some different-angle chances (“When You Will,” “Answers”) that work very well. Rich’s guitar blazes and growls throughout the whole album, being right up front in the mix. The vocals take a backseat, evidence that Robinson is much more comfortable on the six-string than he is singing. Indeed, the guitar is the star here, and Paper features some of Rich’s most bitchin’ solos of his entire career, Black Crowes work included.
True, Paper lacks the swaggering peacock presence of Chris Robinson at the helm, and that makes the music a little more sedate, but considering the Robinson brothers’ relative place in the pop music sphere, that’s not really saying much. Paper still serves up all the loud, distorted, drunken blooze-y goodness you’ve come to expect, and it features more room to breathe than previously enjoyed by either Rich or his listeners. And what better time to enjoy it anew.
– N. Neal Paradise