The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




APRIL 29 2014



As a huge fan of The Black Crowes, and particularly their pre-reformation period I’ve always found Chris Robinson’s ‘Brotherhood’ material a little harder to handle – a more eclectic, less immediate proposition that at times you really have to be in the mood for. This third outing ‘Phosphorescent Harvest’ out via the band’s own Silver Arrow imprint, is however probably their most completely realised record to date sonically: combining as it does the soulful, bluesy, folky and spacey sounds they have taken out on the road over the years to great effect.


The best way of describing it is probably best lifted from the press release: a treasure trove of 10 songs… with a free-flowing delivery; it is music that is in no hurry to reach its destination but firmly knows where it is going’. Where ‘Harvest‘ perhaps differs from previous ‘Brotherhood’ releases is that it ups the psychedelic elements of their sound, whilst also upping the rock and roll in the mix too.  


Starting off with the almost jaunty space pop of ‘Shore Power’ it’s an interesting opening statement that is quickly followed by the off-kilter country-lit calm of ‘About a Stranger’.  The spacey keys of Adam MacDougall light up the meandering ‘Meanwhile in The Gods…’ and ‘Badlands Here We Come’ adds a little drama to proceedings cutting in like a cowboy space opera theme tune. It’s a song that could have quite comfortably have found a home on ‘Warpaint’.


Now if you’ve been listening to this on the headphones, with maybe a glass of red or some other relaxant it’s a case of so far so good; and just as you get comfortable ‘Clear Blue Skies & The Good Doctor’ rears its head and proceeds to subdue you with its initial whistling keys and gentle melody before getting mildly funky and start to tease you like a tale from another time.


‘Beggar’s Moon’ finds a real piano, a rock and rolling riff, and a lazy guitar to create a subdued goodtime swing; while ‘Wanderer’s Lament’ lowers the mood to a sleepy crawl through a beautiful lament coloured with visions of the American countryside.


It’s with a title like ‘Tornado’ that the you imagine album will find its teeth, but true to form it’s another low key lament with a distinct country taste, and some sublime guitar. ‘Jump the Turnstiles’ again approaches with a riff before that quirky, spacey keyboard trill pushes itself forwards and a swinging vocal sets the pace. By this point you will either love or hate those keys and like me imagine what a Hammond could do in their footprint. Supposition aside what grabs you most about ‘…Harvest’ is its wilful cohesiveness.


‘Burn Slow’ that closes the album proper is both lush and understated and seems to crawl upon you, too languid to even creep up on you. It is for me the most elegant lyric and perhaps my highlight, harnessing emotion with love rather than any kind of coercion. It could well be one of Robinson’s finest moments and sits here like the culmination of the entire proposition.     


Aside and adrift ‘Humboldt Windchimes’ the bonus track on CD versions of the album we imagine refers to the Northern Californian County or maybe the Saskatchewan City, rather than the German naturalist, though as an instrumental overspilling with spacey bird-like keys and up-tempo but still low-key percussion it is left to you to decide… My wind chimes just, well sort of chime…   


Listen to this with your eyes closed and your mind open.


Track listing:
1. Shore Power
2. About a Stranger
3. Meanwhile In The Gods....
4. Badlands Here We Come
5. Clear Blue Sky & The Good Doctor
6. Beggar's Moon
7. Wanderer's Lament
8. Tornado
9. Jump The Turnstiles
10. Burn Slow
11. Humboldt Windchimes (bonus track on CD only)



by Mark Diggins