Hot-buttered and socially aware tunes from British committee of sweet-licks talents.
Here’s a rather unlikely collective of three veterans coming from different genres – rock, reggae and soul – with a clearly defined common ground. Still, despite their firm roots in classic rhythm-and-blues, Messrs. Brown, Priest and Trower could hardly ever conspire to create something as irresistible as this album if not for a chance meeting between Robin and Maxi in Livingstone’s studio which, brief though it was, resulted in a series of pieces that Curtis, Isaac and Rufus would have been proud to take part in. Mellifluous and edgy in equal measure, “United State Of Mind” is a sensual triumph for all involved – and their fans, existent and new, too.
Flying straight in the listener’s face, the record’s title track opens it with Robin’s blunt lick cutting through orchestral strings and Maxi’s voice bouncing off Livingstone’s bass as reeds elevate the song’s message to the skies only to bring the infectious sonics back to earth, but the flute-flaunting, velvet vibrancy of “Are We Just People” is bound to crawl under the thickest skin and induce goosebumps. A tad drier, “On Fire Like Zaza” will get fully ignited when Trower’s wah-wah’s suggestively smudge the number’s sheen before the sparse ripples of “Walking Wounded” reveal the trio’s vulnerable underbelly.
However, its smooth veneer and a “Summertime” quote at the start of guitar solo notwithstanding, “Sunrise Revolution” bristles at the world’s injustices, while the funky, if socially charged, “Good Day” and the jazzed-up “Hands To The Sky” and jive jubilantly, and “Bring It All Back To You” caresses a psyche with gentle strokes from Livingstone and Priest. Yet “Where Our Love Came From” might be the best ballad of the recent years: too sad, this bittersweet composition is the album’s finale. Hopefully, the three artists are inspired enough by their joint effort’s success to get together again and deliver more of such hot stuff.