This CD from ROB LARKIN is a really good example of modern roots rock and Americana. Although it has one foot in the past, Rob cites influences such as Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix; there is nothing retro about this. In fact it is a refreshing blast with some excellent music and a nice line of storytelling in the lyrics. Rob has worked as a guitarist and vocalist for several bands; however this is the first album listed under his own name.
The opening track ‘Dogwood’ is a nice rootsy strum with some excellent harmonica work courtesy of Ken Frizzelle. The song gradually builds throughout, and the rhythm is pinned down well by a double drum duo and a percussionist! The vocals are streetwise with some good lyrical twists: - “Creepin’ through the back door, on the floor, back on the street/ Lookin’ for somethin’ I can keep.”
‘Tijuana’, which follows is a juke joint/bar room blues which has some good interplay between Rob’s electric guitar work, and Justin Avery’s Hammond organ. The lyrics detail the results of a road trip, being hassled by the local law enforcement, going on the run and getting back home: - “Crossed the border feelin’ fine. Bar hole waters on my mind/ Take it easy, no troubles, leave it all behind.”
‘LA’, which bears no resemblance to the Fall track of the same name is a slower country style burner, with a nice line in keyboard work that lends a 1970s style to the proceedings. A song about being free and travelling, Rob’s laid back vocals sum it all up: - “Packin’ up, movin’ out. Stranger in town passin’ by/ Travellin’ on, wonderin’ what three thousand miles will bring/ Outside the windshield the past rollin’ by givin’ me something to sing.”
‘April’ is a heartfelt love song, dripping with emotion, a guitar based tale of love that is lost but never forgotten, this is a real high point in the album: “Turned back one morning, couldn’t face the day/ Had to see you one more time ‘fore you went away.” The character in this tale seems broken by his loss and unable to move on: - “Even after all this time it’s hard to believe you’re not coming back.”
After this, the only sort of song that could follow has to be a bit more hopeful, and ‘One Rise Up’ is just that. Written from the viewpoint of someone who’s been kicked in the teeth but still hold on to hope: - “They’ll come at you with all that they’ve got. Sayin’ you’re not one of us/ They wanna see blood on the mat. One fall down and one rise up.”
In the second half of the album, there is a very distinct New Orleans style to some of the tracks, notably ‘It Spills Out’, with its heavy drum beat and electric guitar blues, keyboards make their mark with Hammond and piano almost competing. There is some clever wordplay here: - “Chasin’ illusions, run from your life/ Close your eyes when the darkness gets too bright.”
'Still Here' continues the New Orleans vibe, and is another high point in the album, the lyrics are sung to a lover/friend who always sticks around through thick and thin to look after the guy who’s hit the skids at times: - “Oh still feelin’, my heart beat. You walked ten miles, to get me back on my feet/ Come around everyday, you see me through, saying “Don’t be lonely I’ll walk with you”.”
The album closes on a high with ‘Taking Me Home’ a blues boogie, like a lot which details a sundown porch party: -“Sundown on the back porch, guitars come out. Oh take me home/ Sweet soul sound fillin’ the ground.”
Overall, this was a great effort by Rob Larkin, and his work with other bands has clearly paid off. This deserves some real success.
Rob Larkin on MySpace