On his third disc from Severn Records, Tad Robinson puts his stamp on the soul side of today’s blues scene with Back in Style. Taking inspiration from the great sounds of Stax and Hi Records, Robinson literally oozes soul with his testifying delivery of the eight originals and two covers on the new CD. From the opening organ swell of the funky lead track, “Rained All Night,” through the soul anthem closer, “Get Back To Love,” Robinson explodes back on the scene with his authoritative, singular and passionate style. Throughout this collection, Robinson’s voice is suffused with varying shades of blue and exhibits the warmth and power that only the most seasoned vocalists on the scene can summon.
Back in Style represents new ground, new challenges and new directions for the music by an artist who continues to grow and influence his peers in the industry. “Rained All Night” is particularly hard hitting and is destined to become a new soul classic. At the same time, Robinson’s music pays homage to the traditions and touchstones of the history of soul music and blues. There are echoes of Al Green here; phrasing snatched from Tyrone Davis there; a nod to the mellow grit of Teddy Pendergrass on occasion or, alternately, to the keening sting of Syl Johnson’s reedy tenor. But these influences, duly noted, blend into a unique and charismatic vocal style that is pure Tad.
Raised in New York City and now a resident of Indianapolis, Robinson is also joined on the new CD by long-time friend, guitarist Alex Schultz (Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers), whose creative, funky and dynamic playing helps push the groove that Robinson establishes on each of the songs. Others on the sessions include Steve Gomes (Ronnie Earl, John Lee Hooker) on bass, Robb Stupka (Luther Allison, Johnny Lang) on drums, Benjie Porecki (Darrell Nulisch, Roy Gaines) on keyboards, plus Robinson’s regular touring keyboard whiz, Kevin Anker. Robinson also adds his bluesy harmonica on two songs, as well.
Another strong point of Tad’s albums has been his writing, and Back in Style marks the birth of a strong songwriting team in Robinson and co-producer Steve Gomes. Besides “Rained All Night,” the Gomes/Robinson pairing is responsible for the gritty, “Full Attention Blues” and the intimate “Sunday Morning Woman,” on which they got support in writing from Kevin Anker.
Robinson’s last two CDs from Severn Records, A New Point of View (2007) and Did You Ever Wonder (2004) received five Blues Music Award nominations in the Soul/Blues category, where real-deal singers, not guitar heroes, rule the day. Back in Style will inevitably take Tad Robinson further into the hearts of his fans and connect with new listeners while placing him firmly on the map of the contemporary soul scene. It is a gutsy, fun, danceable, upbeat and soulful disc. With Severn Records’ 50th release to date, Tad is back. In Style!