CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD
Album review: "Big Moon Ritual"
By Catherine P. Lewis
Friday, June 29, 2012
The name Chris Robinson Brotherhood is a bit misleading: The former Black Crowes singer’s new solo project doesn’t include his actual brother (and Black Crowes guitarist) Rich Robinson. Still, CRB’s debut album, “Big Moon Ritual,” does have a fraternal feel with its campfire-like jams, long songs and full vocal harmonies.
Unfortunately, the lilting, mellow tone never really goes anywhere; the album is full of long, noodling pieces stuck in the same groove. There are no climaxes, no moments of tension and no intricate riffs, just simple, trancelike repetitions and hippie synthesizers.
The lyrics are equally forgettable, as Robinson sing-speaks with a laid-back drawl. The album’s most memorable lyrics also are its most bizarre, as Robinson croons, “My baby loves me like an autoharp/ Well she plucks my mind and strums my heart” in “Reflections on a Broken Mirror.” And the bridge of “Rosalee” features eight unnecessary chants of “Is the air getting thinner? Are we getting high?”
Despite its often-grating vocal leads, CRB does have one strong asset: its harmonies. Four of the five band members sing, and that full sound adds a shimmering warmth. Singing together at the end of “Beware, Oh Take Care,” the guys create a haunting tone. It’s almost enough to make you forget that they’re doing nothing more than repeating the song’s title.