Fourth Studio Album Pressed On Vinyl LP!
When the Chris Robinson Brotherhood headed into the studio to begin recording their album Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel, no one knew just what to expect. These would be the band's first recordings with new drummer Tony Leone (Ollabelle, Levon Helm), their first since the departure of founding bassist Mark "Muddy" Dutton, and their first time producing themselves. But as anybody who's been following the CRB can attest, this is a band that thrives on the unexpected.
Heading into the studio for Any Way You Love, Robinson purposely left as much open-ended as possible, embracing the lineup changes and leaning into the virtuosic improvisational chemistry thats always made their live shows such enthralling spectacles.
"Instead of seeing these things as challenges, we started to see them as something exciting," explains Robinson. "It was an opportunity to see where our expression could take us. Some people get really uptight when theyre making records, but for us, the looser it gets the better. Its all about taking our intuition and following it to where our ideas can really manifest themselves. This turned out to be the most spontaneous record Ive ever been a part of."
Not coincidentally, Robinson also cites it as perhaps the best recording experience of his life. The band relocated to northern California for the sessions, recording on the side of a mountain overlooking the foggy Pacific Ocean and channeling the natural majesty and melancholic weather of their surroundings into the album's eight, epic, immersive tracks.
The album kicks off with "Narcissus Soaking Wet," a psychedelic toe-tapper that marks Robinson's first co-write with keyboardist Adam Macdougall and touches on everything from Dylan and Parliament Funkadelic to Southern rock and Chicago blues.
"For me, its the centerpiece of the record," says Robinson. "Its got all our CRB things we love, especially the groove, and it's the first time I ever played harmonica on one of our songs. The lyrics are about control and egotism and false idolatry, about what happens when youre a musician who puts yourself above the natural flow of harmony and music. It becomes the same mythic mistake that all the tragic heroes made."
Some of Robinsons finest writing to date arrives in the albums final minutes, with the soulful, southern, gospel-tinged closer "California Hymn," which finds him singing "Glory glory hallelujah / Its time to spread the news / Though my good words may sound profane to some."
"That whole chorus is about being a part of our community, our little CRB culture," explains Robinson. "These are our services when we play our music. And when its at its best, we feel like the music makes a connection with people thats on a level that has nothing to do with commerce or nostalgia. Theres some other gravity that keeps us all together in those moments, and I think this song is representative of that kind of magic spell."
Indeed, the whole album is something of a magic spell, and now that its been cast, it's time for services to resume in the psychedelic church of the CRB.
"Robinson's voice is in great form throughout, plaintive and just craggy enough on songs like the serene 'Some Gardens Green.' The band (with Neil Casal on guitars, Adam MacDougall on keys, Tony Leone on drums, and Jeff HIll on bass) finds various ways to showcase its quirky aesthetic: a 70s funk feel on 'Narcissus Soaking Wet,' a danceable, riff-based blues on 'Leave My Guitar Alone,' and a positively trippy aura on 'Give Us Back Our Eleven Days.' 'California Hymn' is the highlight, with guitars, piano and harmonies melding seamlessly in that loose-tight blend." - Karen Bells, The Absolute Sound, Music 4.5/5, Sonics 4.5/5
Chris Robinson, vox, guitar
Neal Casal, guitar, vox
Adam MacDougall, keyboards
Tony Leone, drums
1. Narcissus Soaking Wet
2. Forever As The Moon
3. Ain't It Hard But Fair
4. Give Us Back Our Eleven Days
5. Some Gardens Green
6. Leave My Guitar Alone
7. Oak Apple Day
8. California Hymn