Angel Air 2016
Black Country guitar slinger gets back to basics to reclaim his legacy.
Blinded with his knack for songwriting and fretboard gymnastics, Robin George‘s achievements as producer are easy to overlook, yet it’s this skill set that helps the Midlands artist continuously create new contexts out of familiar cuts. Far from shameless repurposing of old tracks, there’s always a fresh angle to an augmented piece – or a stripped-down one in the case of this album where modus operandi was to record everything in a trio format, Robin’s six-string supported by Charley Charlesworth’s bass and Charlie Morgan’s drums, and have the vocal part of a previously released version replaced with George’s own voice.
It’s not the first time for such an endeavor, what with the axeman taking to the mic on DAMAGE CONTROL’s "Raw", but the result is intimate now, rather than heroic, on the likes of "Love Power And Peace" as the composer stresses a strength of a song itself, not only of its message. The anguished honesty of his delivery zooms out from the universal to personal in the fresh-fashioned title track – all sparse melange of sharp riffs, angular strum and Eastern weave – and, following a reference to angels, in an updated look at “Heaven” which is an epitome of an almost orchestral affection here. The vibrant reprise of “Oxygen” may seem to symbolize the insularity of Robin’s today’s approach, and not for nothing George, with a blues edge to most of the numbers, is boiling down the decisiveness of “The Rubicon” to his and Pete Haycock’s rapport.
Still, there’s a crisp funk thrown onto “Pride” after the guitarist has pushed Ruby Turner’s wail to the back, while the infectious chorus and Mel Collins’ sax make the heavy, if sensual, “Catarina” stand out, but “World” offers dry crunch that’s gradually wetted with a slider to soften the writer’s acidic critique of our current ways. That’s why here’s a lot of love in these grooves: because it is all we need, as painful as it may be.