Three albums in, Robert Randolph decided to release a set of songs in a more structured style. Colorblind still has the great, wailing pedal steel riffs that Randolph made his name on, but there are none of the exuberant, seven-minute solos that were found on his previous work and in his live shows. Instead, Randolph focuses on hooks, pulling from gospel, soul, blues, rock and, of course, funk (perhaps even more funk than before), both vocally and within the instrumentation, borrowing the talents of vocalist Leela James, Dave Matthews and DMB saxophonist Leroi Moore and Eric Clapton (on a crackling cover of "Jesus is Just Alright") to add to his pop appeal. Randolph and his band sound fantastic, with tight, complicated grooves that show off their respective gifts. But they also seem a little too concerned with pleasing a larger audience, one that may not be willing to listen through the winding, somewhat-less-exuberant-than-before guitar solos and popping bass lines. It's not like Randolph & Co. sold out. But Colorblind is a significant compositional departure from his first two albums, both of which concentrated primarily on the music and then on the vocals. It's still a lot of fun though, and for Randolph, that's always been the most important thing.
Marisa Brown writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].