Always one of the best guitarists around, Robin Trower has seen and done it all since emerging onto the music scene six decades ago. His stint with Procul Harum, starting in 1967, brought him to public attention before launching a very successful solo career six years later. Still producing music that can stop the world, his 50th anniversary as an artist under his own name is celebrated in Joyful Sky, this time with New Yorker Sari Schorr as his chosen foil.
Robin Trower feat Sari Schorr – Joyful Sky (Mascot Label Group)
Release Date: 27 October 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
With her smoky and soulful voice, Schorr is the perfect singer for the project, the heart and rawness she brings match the playing perfectly as both she and Trower roar and purr in equal measure.
“I’ve worked with some great vocalists over the years, but Sari is dynamite, just an absolute knockout,” Trower told us. “This album really pushed me, made me write in different keys and arrange songs for her voice. I went more down the R&B route this time because I knew she’d be great with that flavour. But the blues still underpins everything I do – and there’s definitely elements from my ’70s stuff in this new album.”
With a formidable reputation built up over the years, the guitarist has naturally effortless ease with his playing and eschews flash runs for structure. Endlessly inventive, what he does with his six-string takes it in directions that endlessly dazzle, and Joyful Sky does this in a way that compliments the songs and vocals, the ten tight tracks shorn of any excess.
“I was already a fan of Robin, absolutely,” Schorr says. “You don’t want to use the word ‘genius’ casually, but I believe he is a genius. The way he feels and hears music is so acute. It’s like he has superhuman powers. I had so much faith in his vision. You just grab on and hold tight.”
Starting gently, Burn opens the album with a seductive air, its shimmering slow blues blending aching vocals and exquisite guitar licks, things stepping up with the strident and empowering I’ll Be Moving On. “This is my favourite track on the album,” says Trower. “It’s soulful, has a vibe about it and shows Sari at her very best.”
“I’ll Be Moving On is quite special,” Schorr says, “because it beautifully encapsulates the synergy between Robin and me. This collaboration weaves together blues, rock, and soul in a way that showcases Robin’s unique musical prowess.”
It’s all beautifully crafted, the production having a warmth and spark that breathes life and a real human touch that crackles with soul, the various moods captured with a real understanding.
The irresistible guitar hook of The Distance and woozy psychedelia of Peace Of Mind highlights the kaleidoscopic approach, the album drawing the listener in as it shifts and changes.
On the title track, a dreamlike fugue is achieved that is almost an out-of-body experience, the soundscape painted by the two artists somehow timeless. The four seasons in one day tones of The Circle Is Complete marks this out as a bit of vibrant history for Trower, his style never strained.
Things reach a perfect climax on closer I Will Always Be Your Shelter. It is slow, soulful and warming power enough to mend any broken heart, the afterglow there for a while as the listener reaches for the play button again.
With this release and the excellent United State of Mind, Trower has shown that he has plenty more gas in the tank, and we can look forward to many more miles on the road ahead.
Two outstanding artists, one sublime album.
“I think this record is more accessible than the stuff I’ve done over the last few years and I’ve got a feeling it’ll reach more people,” says Trower of Joyful Sky. “At my age, to still be doing it, and still turning out good stuff, you really appreciate what a blessing that is.”
To order Joyful Sky, visit lnk.to/robintrower.