Robert Randolph & The Family Band: Lickety Split Review

In 2003, Robert Randolph & The Family Band of Orange, New Jersey made their studio debut with Unclassified, an 11-track album fueled by a magnetizing fusion of funk, gospel and blues that quickly grabbed Eric Clapton’s attention. Ten years later, Robert Randolph was performing at Clapton’s 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival when he announced the title of his band’s latest studio project. On July 16, Lickety Split hits stores as the latest incarnation of this group’s merger of old styles and modern ideas.

Co-produced and co-written by the renowned pedal steel guitar player Robert Randolph himself, Lickety Split features the talents of Family Band members Lenesha Randolph (vocals), Danyel Morgan (bass, vocals), Brett Haas (guitar, keys) and Marcus Randolph (drums). Trombone Shorty makes a guest appearance on the track “Take the Party,” while guitar legend Carlos Santana joins the group on “Brand New Wayo” and “Blacky Joe.” Scattered among ten original tracks are renditions of “Love Rollercoaster” by The Ohio Players and The Rascals’ 1966 hit “Good Lovin.’” Following the pace of a collection set in motion by the speedy opening track “Amped Up,” “Good Lovin’” is a fitting happy-go-lucky song to sign off with.

Much like their noted influences from the 1970s funk era, Robert Randolph & The Family Band recognize and pay tribute to the jam and gospel roots of their musical backgrounds. The album’s title track was designed as a jam piece that could easily be adapted for use by a gospel choir. Meanwhile, the intricate plucking of Robert Randolph’s pedal steel guitar in “New Orleans” generates a wavering and somewhat psychedelic background for the song that is permeated only when his voice cuts through Lenesha Randolph’s dreamlike vocal sequence.

Through all of the styles present on Lickety Split, funk and gospel reign as the two leading sources of inspiration for Robert Randolph & The Family Band. The album’s first single “Born Again” serves as a perfect example: featuring the voices of a full choir steeped in the dueling tempos of Robert Randolph’s guitar and Morgan’s bass, “Born Again” is evidence of a funk, gospel and jam band all rolled into one. Comprised of strong originals and equally solid covers, Lickety Split is a successful return for Robert Randolph & The Family Band.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Born Again
– New Orleans
– Blacky Joe
– Good Lovin’

The Big Hit

– Born Again

Review by Meghan Roos

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