Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Unclassified (Dare / Warner Bros.)

ACL Fest Record Reviews

Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Unclassified (Dare/Warner Bros.) Robert Randolph sounds like he has the power of God running through his guitar-playing fingers. A maestro of sacred steel, Randolph takes the skills he picked up at the House of God Church in New Jersey and injects them into pop compositions on his band's debut studio album, Unclassified. A live marvel for years, Randolph and his band shoot sparks of fiery blues and gospel all over 11 new songs. "I Need More Love" is little more than a jam based around a refrain of those four words, but its infectious, boot-stomping energy is classic. The same can be said for the peaceful R&B thump in "Smile." It's when the band is at its most combustible that things really get moving. In these moments Randolph becomes an evangelist leading the choir, reciting scripture from James Brown, Carlos Santana, and the Allman Brothers. The rare instrumental tune pales when left in the spotlight, making the combination of Randolph's gritty vocals and grittier guitar the true stars of this show. Each and every song sounds assured, allowing listeners to devote as much faith in the band's abilities as they devote to making transcendent American music. (Saturday, 5pm, Capital Metro stage)

*** 

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