Robin Trower: Time And Emotion Review

Over Robin Trower’s long career, there are three things he has tended to be associated with. To his fans, he is a master of guitar tone. To his detractors, he’s a Hendrix copyist. And to many others like myself, he’s the guy who was lucky enough to have the late Jimmy Dewar’s smoky vocals on some of his finest moments, such as Bridge Of Sighs.

That last point is important. Knowing that Robin Trower had taken on vocal responsibilities himself on Time And Emotion, I approached it with some trepidation. Could he really deliver? Well, no and yes. Okay, so he’s no Jimmy Dewar, but Trower does manage to exceed my low expectations, groaning away satisfactorily throughout, in a sub-Knopflerish kinda way.

Vocals aside, is Time And Emotion any good? Well, yeah, as it happens. Right from the off, with the mid-paced shuffle of “The Land Of Plenty,” Trower sets a benchmark for well constructed songs and the tone wizardry for which he’s celebrated, often layering guitar sounds to create interesting textures, as on the slower, more reflective “What Was I Really Worth To You.” “Bitten By The Snake” is one of the most immediate tracks on show with spiky guitar lines set off against an addictively toe-tapping rhythm from drummer Chris Taggart, and a good solo to boot. “You’re The One,” meanwhile, is essentially a fairly slight song, but it has a winning melody over a lazy beat, augmented by an effects heavy, quavering Trower solo.

If you like a dash of funk then the loose-limbed “Try Love” should fit the bill, with its engaging bass groove (Trower also plays bass, along with Livingstone Browne), while in a similar vein “If You Believe In Me” is upbeat, with a strutting rhythm and bass. It also features a sparkling little guitar refrain and a nicely fuzzy guitar solo, before veering off into a complementary slower section to close. Trower can keep it simple, too, however, as he demonstrates on “Make Up Your Mind,” an old-fashioned blues slowie on which he deploys a more straight ahead guitar sound that makes for a pleasant change. I sense that Trower has also put some effort into the lyrics throughout, although the limitations of his vocal delivery mean they don’t have the impact that they could.

Time And Emotion may not be a late career highlight from Robin Trower, but it’s a step up from its predecessor Where Are You Going To, and a solid set of songs on which he often lives up to his reputation as a tone master.

The Review: 7.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– What Was I Really Worth To You
– Bitten By The Snake
– You’re The One
– Try Love

The Big Hit

– Bitten By The Snake

Review by Iain Cameron

Buy the album: Amazon

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5 Responses to “Robin Trower: Time And Emotion Review”

  1. Gary Milligan says:

    I have listened to this album a few times and am quite impressed overall.
    His vocals fit the music just fine,which I too was wondering how he would sound when I first heard his last album.I don’t find while listening that I am thinking it would be a lot a better with another vocalist.I guess it’s really the guitar that draws your attention either way.

  2. Malc says:

    There’s no doubt that Robin Trower was blessed to have James Dewar on board, ”the luckiest day of my life” I recall from one interview…however, RT was once both a great player and songwriter. Sadly, he has been putting the same album out every couple of years for some time now and while he still has that great tone, vibrato and all his usual trademark ‘Trowerisms’, the music is just not there anymore, either from the playing perspective, the melodies, or his songwriting…to me his playing has become so predictable it borders on self parody. Never has a player, to me, lost the plot to such a degree as Robin Trower has.

  3. Bill Reeves says:

    I’d go along with you that this is better than his last offering. I got this album last week, it’s got some alright tracks but Trower’s singing -while earthy and expressive-is not very tuneful, certainly not in Jimmy Dewar’s league (but then, who is?) and the chops ain’t nearly up to his best stuff either. Whiles his licks still sounds vibey, they are without the instinctive natural qualities, and sense of build in his solos that I used to love his guitar just sounds meandering and aimless now. I also get tired of reading Amazon 5 star fanboy reviews of how all his latest efforts are the best since Bridge Of Sighs, or”like a fine wine he gets even better with age” he did plenty of stuff after BOS that is much better in every department than anything he’s done in recent times.

    • Iain Cameron says:

      Not being an aficionado I’ll bow to your knowledge of his earlier output, Bill. This album really had to be better than Where Are You Going To? though, didn’t it? Frankly I found that soporific. I certainly wouldn’t go along with the kind of fanboy Amazon reviews you mention though – there’s far too much of that sort of unthinking comment around in relation to all sorts of artists. It doesn’t really help a reader who’s trying to decide whether to part with their hard-earned shekels.

  4. Thomas Brown says:

    The great Robin Trower, is coming to Portland Maine for the first time, wow !! I have seen him a few times in Boston, Mass, he puts on a great show he really is timeless.I like his voice ,perfect for the blues. I want to shake his hand and thank him for coming to Portland Maine. Tom Brown P.S. This will make a long cold winter worth it !

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