Silver Arrow Records
Gatefold double LP
Their fourth studio album includes eight sprawling tracks
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 that's 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 they're making records, but for us, the looser it gets the better. It's 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 I've 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. "It’s 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 you’re 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 Robinson's finest writing to date arrives in the album's final minutes, with the soulful, southern, gospel-tinged closer "California Hymn," which finds him singing "Glory glory hallelujah/ It's 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 it’s at its best, we feel like the music makes a connection with people that’s on a level that has nothing to do with commerce or nostalgia. There's 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 it's been cast, it's time for services to resume in the psychedelic church of the CRB.
|Narcissus Soaking Wet|
|Forever As The Moon|
|Ain't It Hard But Fair|
|Give Us Back Our Eleven Days|
|Some Gardens Green|
|Leave My Guitar Alone|
|Oak Apple Day|