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May 2010

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Tad Robinson
Back In Style
Severn Records

Tad Robinson

Music fans who long to hear old-school soul music will be pleased to learn that the genre is alive and well and thriving at Severn Records. Among their most recent releases is a pair of great soul/blues sets from Charles Wilson (Troubled Child) and Darryl Nulisch (Just For You). The label’s latest release is from singer/harpman Tad Robinson and fits comfortably into that soul/blues niche as well. Indeed, Back In Style may be Robinson’s best release yet.

Back In Style consists of ten winning tracks, dripping with that vintage soul sound and feel. The opening cut, “Rained All Night,” was penned by bass player Steve Gomes (who co-produced the disc with Robinson and David Earl) and sounds like a long-lost Hi Records track with its percolating Hammond B3 (courtesy of Kevin Anker) and a marvelous horn section that includes Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns.

“You Name It I’ve Had It,” one of two covers on the disc, sounds like an old Sam Cooke track with that great horn section punctuating Robinson’s testimony and the glorious Hammond organ shimmering in the background. “I’m In Good” is one of several excellent Robinson-penned tracks (another being “Get Back to Love,” the album closer). “I’m In Good” is an upbeat tune about a new love, and adds a little bit of funk to the mix.

“Sunday Morning Woman” brings to mind 1970s-era Tyrone Davis, and fans of the Isley Brothers T-Neck days will appreciate “On and On” and “Half Smile.” All that’s missing is Ernie Isley’s laser-beam lead guitar, but the groove holds it together just fine, courtesy of Gomes, Anker, drummer Robb Stupka, and guitarist Alex Schultz. As you might have ascertained, the focus here is on the soul side of blues, but “Full Attention Blues” does move things back to the blues side temporarily.

It’s wonderful to see and hear the classic genre of music enjoying a renaissance. While there are lots of younger artists helping to bring it back, it’s even more rewarding to see veterans of the scene like Tad Robinson getting to take part in the resurgence. Fans of classic soul music of the ’60s and ’70s should be falling all over themselves to get Back In Style.

--- Graham Clarke


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