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