Tad Robinson – Day Into Night (2015)

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The opening bars of “Soul Lover,” the first cut from Tad Robinson’s latest LP Day Into Night (Severn Records), is remindful of The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around.” By the time the album is finished, favorable comparisons to Otis Redding, Z.Z. Hill and Robert Cray will have sprung into the consciousness, too.

Tad Robinson is a modern day soul man with the classic day vibe down pat. Produced just right by band members and songwriting collaborators Kevin Anker (keyboards) and Steve Gomes (bass), along with David Earl, this batch of mostly-original tunes about heartbreak, longing or romantic bliss are a fresh turn on old themes. Leading the way are the effortlessly soul-oozing vocals of Robinson, squeezing out real emotion without over-emoting; he’s a natural.

Kenny Rittenhouse’s horn arrangements on numbers like the aforementioned “Soul Lover,” “Nightwatch” and “Mellow In Love” stand out from the punchier arrangements typically found on Stax or Muscle Shoals records; there’s a softened, majestic sound to them that matches the velvet throat of Robinson. Blues guitar heavy Anson Funderburgh also pairs up well with him, peppering “Lonely Talking” with tasty, soulful licks. Another guest guitarist, Alex Schultz, contributes pleasing slowhand licks to “Nightwatch.”

Robinson takes on one of his forbears Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland with a convincing take on Bland’s “Lead Me On,” with Johnny Moeller’s guitar lead sounding a bit like Cray. “Call Me,” written by Robinson, Gomes and Anker, follows Bland’s uptempo formula and makes you wonder why songs aren’t written like that anymore. An alternate version with Rittenhouse’s horns is a bit more sultry and includes Robinson doing his pleading with a little talking blues. It’s just as good as Version 1.

Did I mention that Robinson is also a pretty accomplished harmonica player, too? You can hear the proof on “While You Were Gone,” where he applies much of the same veteran phrasing from his singing to his blues harp.

There are no filler tracks on Day Into Night. Tad Robinson had assembled a solid backing band and sparkling tunes to make a quality soul-blues record that faithfully follows in the stellar tradition of Hill, Bland and Little Milton.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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