Rich Robinson, ‘The Ceaseless Sight’ – Album Review
Rich Robinson’s third studio album as a solo artist finds the guitarist in a familiar yet brand new groove. Writing music for the Black Crowes and his solo career over the last 25 years has no doubt shaped his musical style, but on ‘The Ceaseless Sight,’ Robinson has solidified a new place for himself in the rock and roll history books. With several different influences, it would be easy for the album to veer off into different directions, losing the listener after only a few songs. Robinson makes sure this isn't the case as he creates one cohesive sound with assorted touch points, all pointing in one direction and building on the same theme: progress.
Opening with the instant classic, 'I Know You,' Robinson and company channel their inner Rolling Stones to provide listeners with the most rocking track on the album. Besides setting the stage musically for the rest of the record, the singer-songwriter also begins his journey of moving forward lyrically. When the second verse kicks in with, 'Leaving on a midnight train I watch you getting smaller / Driving in the faster lane removes you from my knowledge,' it's easy to imagine Robinson breathing a sigh of relief as he steers through the song.
Similar sentiments are found throughout the album, forming an overarching sense of positivity between the music and listener. Songs like 'Down the Road' and 'One Road Hill' use intricate and catchy melodies created by Robinson as a foundation for his lyrical prowess. In a society where attention spans get shorter by the second, it seems almost therapeutic to sit back and reflect on the chorus from 'Down the Road': 'This is living, a life worth living / No pressing motives, no calls to make.'
Even the title of the album suggests the necessity of always looking ahead. On top of the encouraging message of 'The Ceaseless Sight,' the music itself is downright flawless. Robinson has taken the influences of his entire lifetime and integrated them into one sound. There is a hint of Greenwich Village folk, a hint of soul and funk and obviously more than a hint of rock and roll. As one might expect from an artist of his level, Robinson doesn't let any one genre define the album, though, and instead creates a remarkable album that easily stands out as one of the best of the year.
Partnering with drummer Joe Magistro - who worked with Robinson on both of his previous solo albums as well as toured with the Crowes behind the kit for a brief period - the duo recorded the album alongside keyboardist Marco Benevento at Applehead Recording in Woodstock, N.Y. The chemistry between the three musicians is obvious as the transitions from song to song seem effortless. The band can successfully navigate from a beautifully tuneful song like 'In Comes the Night' directly into the funky and playful 'Inside'; that type of fluent segue is common throughout. The sequencing of the album creates a dynamic road trip for all who choose to listen.
Elevating that listening experience of 'The Ceaseless Sight' even more, Robinson is very thoughtful in the way that fans can listen to the album. In addition to the standard CD and digital formats, the album is available as a double-LP, pressed on two gorgeous tri-colored speckled slabs of wax. The speckled pressing ensures no two records look identical, creating a personal bond between listener and disc. Both records are in printed sleeves and housed in a high-quality gatefold jacket, and obviously the photograph and artwork (handled by Laurent Chanez and Marq Spusta, respectively) look absolutely stunning on the 12-inch packaging. While pre-orders of the album ship with an extra EP entitled 'The Dirigible Utopia' - a CD of four instrumental tracks - side D of the vinyl actually features those bonus tracks as a continuation of the record.
No matter how you choose to listen to 'The Ceaseless Sight,' the outcome will likely be the same: tapping your toes with a smile on your face while you make an effort to relax, even if only for a moment. It seems like Robinson has figured out what it truly means to take a step forward and make progress in life, and fortunately for fans, he shares it throughout the entire album.
'The Ceaseless Sight' is available via The End Records in CD, digital and vinyl format. Pick up the album here.
Rich Robinson, 'The Ceaseless Sight' - Vinyl Edition