SERVANTS OF THE SUN
Chris Robinson Brotherhood are on tour in support of their latest studio album Servants of the Sun. Their sixth full-length recording since forming in 2011 finds the band setting aside the studio explorations of more recent work, instead coming full circle to deliver their most direct, bare bones, rock n’ roll offering since debut companion albums Big Moon Ritual and The Magic Door.
Bottling the CRB’s pure essence into 10 new songs, Servants of the Sun bursts into the clear blue air with the funky upper atmosphere bubbling of vintage keyboards, sky-climbing guitar lines, driving rhythm and the voice of one of rock music’s great singers. A gateway swings wide open to a universe that the Chris Robinson Brotherhood has been tirelessly constructing for eight years through extraordinary musicianship, epic touring and a roving, seemingly bottomless wizard’s chest of sonic delights.
The major themes of Servants of the Sun are experienced in a constant swirl within the CRB sound. There’s the uptempo ramble and strut of “Comin’ Round the Mountain” juxtaposed against the surreal on “Venus In Chrome.” There’s redemption through love on “The Chauffeur’s Daughter” set alongside the ominous poetry of “A Smiling Epitaph.” “Dice Game” is an exquisite slice of blue country, while “Let it Fall” sashays with fond homage to the slinky rhythms and stoned, but sizzling energy of Little Feat and New Orleans soul-funk. The album captures Robinson and company hurt-ling between the fire and mania of Saturday night and the bruises and rain-on-the-bus-window re-flection of the cold Sunday morning dawn. Beyond the bullet holes, red-eyed angry angels, alchemy, praying mantises, hangovers, and all other manner of cosmic debris gone lyrically airborne -- love is lost, new love is found, relationships are bent and broken by distance and time or by unrelenting proximity and timelessness. All the while, the line between autobiography and psychedelic fantasy is completely blurred.
The CRB’s evolution that led to Servants of the Sun stretches from clubs, to theaters, to the farms of Oregon and the fields of Marin, to sold out tours across Europe, to the annual summer festival circuit including LOCKN', High Sierra Music Festival, Mountain Jam, Peach Music Festival and their own Freaks for the Festival in Big Sur -- all coalescing at the beloved multi-night stands at The Fillmore in San Francisco each December. The CRB were, in fact, a band born on the road from their very first days touring up and down the California coast in residencies in 2011 as they began to build a now mightily expanded international fanbase that might better be described as a tribe bound by music, fun, lifestyle and not just a little dose of obsession.
It is to the credit of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s musical naturalism that such a ferris wheel of themes, tones and characters can exist in the same fast-moving air. With Servants of the Sun they’ve conjured yet another authentic statement free-flowing from their essential expression. In the effortless stream of storylines, hornet-stung emotions, and Kodachrome snapshot images rushing by, the listener hasn’t just landed in the CRB’s world and the joys and sorrows of their lives, they’ve also awakened in their dream. And as Chris Robinson sings, “sometimes a dream is to be believed.”