Robert Randolph and the Family Band: Brighter Days Review

Robert Randolph and the Family Band are set to release their 8th studio album, Brighter Days, on August 23rd. The band was put together by guitarist and lead vocalist Robert Randolph and is composed of his family members: cousins Danyel Morgan on bass and Marcus Randolph on drums, as well as his sister Lenesha Randolph on vocals. The band, out of Orange, NJ, shipped off to Europe to record Brighter Days at Provogue Records with producer Dave Cobb. Cobb is renowned for his vocal work and has worked with many hot, up-and-coming singers, like Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlisle, and Jason Isbell.

The Family Band has toured alongside industry staples like Carlos Santana, Gary Clark Jr, the Tedeshi Trucks Band and Dave Matthews. They have also played massive events such as Eric Clapton’s Crossroad Festival, Hyde Park Calling, BluesFest and the hugely popular Experience Hendrix Tour.

On Brighter Days, the band sticks to its roots of sacred steel music, taking the listener on a joyous journey with their signature gospel infused blues rock. “Baptize Me” opens the album with Randolph’s wailing slide guitar and gravelly voice. He says the lead song is “a love story, about an all-round love: for each other, for our audience.” The second track, “Don’t Fight It” pushes forward with the gospel sound as Marcus Randolph’s big band style drums drive the song beside Robert’s humming guitar. “Don’t Fight It” features a mid-song tempo switch, offering one of the album’s shining moments as the choir, guitar, bass and drums all work together to create a powerful sound under whimsical lyrics. The third track is a cover of another band that famously infused gospel into their blues and R&B sound: the Staple Singers. The Family Band’s version of “Simple Man” is slow and sultry, transporting the listener to a smoky jazz bar. The classic contemplative blues song is accented by Robert’s emotionally charged pedal steel guitar.

The album remains at a slow tempo, smoothly transitioning into the funky “Have Mercy,” a duet featuring Robert and Lenesha Randolph. The lyrics are deep and thoughtfully written about everyday struggles, again amplified by Robert’s weeping guitar. “Cut Em Loose” and the Lenesha-led “Cry Over Me” are both guitar forward –  featuring roaring solos from Randolph – bass and drum driven songs. The middle section is reminiscent of a Parliament/Funkadelic album, with groovy blues keys and bass and choir-like vocals. Brighter Days ends with “Strange Train,” a hard rocking, feedback laden song. Randolph’s Z.Z. Top-esque guitar groans along with his vocals. The drums control the pace of the song as it builds with the bumping bass and a final epic solo from Randolph.

Robert Randolph’s dynamic playing, ranging from the delta blues to classic country to what could be mistaken for a theremin is shown heavily throughout the album. It is no wonder he was selected by Rolling Stone as one of their top 100 guitarists of all time. Robert Randolph and the Family Band have been consistently releasing high energy, genre-fusing albums for nearly two decades, and they continue to craft them with the utmost care. Brighter Days is a clean and crisp album full of impressive instrumentation, lyrics rife with imagery and the passion that gets fans out of their seats euphorically dancing.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Don’t Fight It
– Simple Man
– Second Hand Man
– Cry Over Me
– I Need You
– Strange Train

The Big Hit

– Strange Train

Review by Spencer Rubin

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

Spencer Rubin

Spencer is a budding freelance writer, who is dipping his toes into a variety of industries, including music, travel, technology, and real estate.

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