Tad Robinson

Tad Robinson
A New Point of View

Severn Records CD 0040

By Art Tipaldi
May 2007

Blue-eyed soul has roots that trace back to Elvis. Today, only a handful of white singers can effectively interpret soul and blues. Put Tad Robinson at the top of that list. Throughout the 1990s, Robinson was a staple in the Delmark studio, recording two solo albums and singing on guitarist Dave Spector’s recordings.

Robinson always comes to sing with soul dripping from syllables. He can deliver Motown, Stax, Chicago blues, or greasy Memphis soul with respect and a singer’s commitment.

The band Robinson has assembled is first rate. Guitarist Alex Schultz, the former guitarist for Rod Piazza, is Robinson’s childhood friend. The rest of the core band rounds out with Chicago’s Steve Gomes on bass, Rob Stupka, who has played the drums with blues men from Luther Allison to James Solberg; and Kevin Anker on keyboards.

I saw Robinson at a European festival few years ago and he brought down the house night after night. Rather then cover soul classics from the aforementioned soul eras and labels, Robinson opts to sing a variety of originals written by him and his band members. But the addition of a massive horn and string section on most of these originals add the perfect touch to the soul traditions Robinson loves.

The only thing missing from “Long Way Home” is Isaac Hayes singing harmony. Robinson’s aching vocals on “He’s Movin’ In” are anchored by the powerful horns. And on Gomes’ “More Good Than That,” Robinson affects an Al Green voice.

When he crosses to the blues side of the street on “Broken Hearted Man,” Schultz and Robinson trade their emotional call-and-response. As Robinson’s voice confesses the blues, Schultz wrings terse moods from his strings.

After Robinson recalls the days of Hi Records on his greasy Memphis soul “When You’re Ready,” Robinson’s sleek voice announces a lover’s joy on “Love Is Everything.” Schultz’s funky guitar rhythms and David Finnell’s horn arrangements on “Back For More” give a nod to the 1970 Stax Record style.

Whether Robinson ascends vocally from a whisper to a falsetto plead, from a painful howl to controlled pain, he can sing words with such a personal feeling, it’s hard for a listener not to be personally touched. This is one of the top soul blues albums of the new blues year.

www.tadrobinson.com

www.severnrecords.com

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