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Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Slow-burning soul

Posted By on Wed, Nov 22, 2000 at 12:00 AM

This CD is kinda like one of those smoldering fires: A little hard to get started, but once the spark catches it’ll keep you warm for a good long while.

The first couple of cuts on this CD are fine enough, meaning they’re well-written, well-performed and well-polished. The professionalism is evident all around, but the soul is somewhat missing. The mechanics are there, but mechanics without mojo doesn’t amount to much in the blues.

Then comes the third cut, “Soulful.” For my money, Robillard would have served himself better changing the order of songs around and kicking the whole party off either with “Soulful” or “Hang On,” the tune that follows it. Each of these numbers is driven by a thick-as-molasses Louisiana swamp groove that would make a statue get up and boogie.

It’s safe to say that Robillard has done his homework, studying guys such as the great Louis Jordan and other jump-swing blues bands from an earlier era — one that leans heavily on piano and horn arrangements. But he also can draw creative strength from the same well that fuels the likes of Dr. John. Speaking of Dr. John, I swear these two guys are sharing the same voice.

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at


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