Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Soul | Blues | Jazz & Blues | Gospel
the pedal steel has new life breathed into it on the gospel-inflected robert randolph track, ‘got soul’
By Nathan Leigh
January 8, 2018
The pedal steel guitar may not get a lot of love these days outside of country music, but one run from gospel prodigy Robert Randolph and it’s clear that needs to change. There are no treacly anonymously penned Nashville ballads here; this is pure soul and blues straight from the tap.
Robert Randolph had reportedly never heard secular music before he started playing outside the church, and on Got Soul he weaves the thread of blues, soul, R&B, and even country back into gospel. The band plays with impeccable chemistry, wisely trying to capture the energy of a late night jam session, rather than distilling their sound down to studio perfection. This is especially evident on the false endings and segues of the two part opener “Got Soul” and “She Got Soul.” It’s as if right before the finished the song, they realized there was still gas in the tank for one more riff.
Given that the band has spent the better part of the past 15 years on the road opening for basically everyone in the blues, soul, and jam scenes, it’s no surprise that they shine brightest when their interplay is pushed to the front. The instrumental “Travelin’ Cheeba Man” finds Randolph and co trading impossible riffs, creating the rare instrumental track that’s more than just a showcase for some technical chops (though it’s all that and more too). Surprisingly, it’s the solo “Heaven’s Calling” where Randolph goes back to his Sacred Steel roots that stands out most. Laid bare, you can hear every slide and pick; every nuance and hint to the performance. Where Randolph’s fingers usually summon fireworks, here they’re a river. The line between the sacred and secular vanishes and we’re just left with rawness.
Stream the whole thing below:
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