The Black Crowes don’t make it easy for their fans, do they? Again on an unspecified hiatus and with new material as rare as rocking horse droppings, those ranks of fans are left grasping at the odd live performance or bootleg CD . Thank heavens then for the creative restlessness of Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson. This third album of solo compositions is rich (no pun intended) in rock, soul and folk influences and is probably his most coherent and compelling work to date.
The mood and vibe are immediately established with the brilliant opener, ‘I Know You’ which has the same swagger of a ‘Some Girls’ era Rollin Stones or a ‘Get Your Wings’ Aerosmith– it is, make no mistake, effortlessly brilliant. The laid back, summer mood of ‘Down the Road’ sounds like what might have happened if Ryan Adams had decided to join the Crowes- there are definite echoes of Adams‘s masterpiece ‘Gold’ in the insouciant grooves.
‘One Road Hill’ keeps the mood going- it’s one of those tracks that you think you’ve had somewhere in your record collection. It is at once, immediate and familiar. Indeed, it’s not just this track- the whole album has this warm glow and open heart that suggest it’s like you’ve been friends for years, such is the ease with which this album gets under your skin and then decides to stay there.
The album as a whole feels like it’s 1972 again but this is far from a bad thing: whether it is the self evident adoration for the Allman Brothers or the homespun hippie nation vibe, this is an open hearted and generous- spirited record. Die-hard Crowes fans are going to warm to the upbeat Stonesy numbers like ‘I Know You’ but repeated listens suggests that the real heart of the record lies in the more introspective numbers like ‘Inside’ and ‘I Have a Feeling;’ you might not have had Rich down as a romantic but his belief in the human spirit is decidedly in evidence.
“The Ceaseless Sight” sounds like the Black Crowes. Of course it does: you are entirely expecting this. However, you might not be expecting that it- all of it- sounds like an album of unreleased gems: it is properly, seriously good.
Just because it is not a Black Crowes album does not mean that you should dismiss it easily though. On the contrary, considered in and of itself- as a Rich Robinson solo album- you are left with one reflection: this is a seriously talented artist who has just delivered us a pile of warm and warm hearted songs, drenched in patchouli oil and marijuana smoke. You get the idea that he can knock this sort of stuff out at will. Lucky us: long may he continue to have his creative muse in good order.