Robert Randolph & the Family Band

We Walk This Road (Warner Bros.)

ACL Music Fest Friday Review

Robert Randolph & the Family Band

We Walk This Road (Warner Bros.)

Sacred steel spirit walker Robert Randolph had already fallen prey to the secular after two studio LPs for Warner Bros. – until We Walk This Road reversed course. One of studio Svengali T Bone Burnett's more successful production jobs marries ancient blues and gospel samples that segue between originals penned by a writing team of Randolph, Burnett, former Austinite Tonio K., and Peter Case, with covers of Lennon, Dylan, and Prince chosen smartly to further polish Road's contemporary R&B. Double drums by percussion master Jim Keltner and Jay Bellerose meet Babyface-like beats on "Back to the Wall," over which guitarist Randolph lays crying slide like electric current in water. Case's spiritual "I Still Belong to Jesus" warms 1970s Top 40 soul with Randolph's luminous pedal steel providing the silver lining, but it's the aforementioned Beatle's Imagine exorcism, "I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier Mama," led by Doyle Bramhall II on vox and guitar, that injects the here and now into yesterday's glories. Modernity tarnishes after a while ("Walk Don't Walk," "Dry Bones"), but Leon Russell's piano on closing prayer "Salvation" caresses penitent. We Walk This Road, pathfinder. (7:15pm, Clear 4G stage)

***.5

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