Sunday, June 23, 2024

Robin Trower & Sari Schorr Go the Distance

Legendary guitarist Robin Trower has returned with what’s being referred to as a “stunningly smouldering new album” in Joyful Sky, featuring powerhouse US vocalist, Sari Schorr, that’s out now on the Provogue/Mascot Label Group and their collaboration’s far from over.

A new single, ‘The Distance’ is available digitally and you can check out the video for it here at RAMzine, plus they are due to perform on special online concert on 4 November.
 
The upbeat groove-rocker ‘The Distance’ is about “looking back at when you were younger and how far away that now seems at my great age,” remarked Trower.  Schorr added, “‘The Distance’ is a reflective song that expresses the feelings of separation between the past and present. It’s natural to feel some nostalgia and longing for the past. This song easily could have been left to feel purely melancholic, but Robin gave it a twist by writing a hopeful chorus. And that is why it is so evocative and why I loved singing it.”
 
Schorr continues, “It’s another great song from an album that I think will become a memorable part of Robin’s body of work. The song resonated with me, which allowed me to give it an authentic performance. I’m a very nostalgic person. I probably think about the past too much, but it’s how I process memories and gain perspective. I think the song will connect with many people because reflection is a natural aspect of the human experience.”
 
As noted, the pair are also giving fans the chance to have exclusive access to Robin’s return to stage following a four-year hiatus, alongside the amazing Sari Schorr on Saturday 4th November. Captured in high quality video, with emphatic audio clarity, Trower will be playing live tracks from his new album Joyful Sky, plus exclusive new versions of his classics including ‘Day Of The Eagle’ and ‘Bridge Of Sighs’.

Exclusive access to the live show plus added value bonuses, such as interviews with Trower and Schorr can be found by clicking here.

“I’ve worked with some great vocalists over the years, but Sari is dynamite, just an absolute knockout,” reflected Trower. “This album really pushed me, made me write in different keys and arrange songs for her voice. I went more down the R&B route this time, because I knew she’d be great with that flavour. But the blues still underpins everything I do – and there’s definitely elements from my ’70s stuff in this new album.”

Previously, the pair released ‘I’ll Be Moving On’ as a single, with Trower noting “This is my favourite track on the album. It’s soulful, has a vibe about it and shows Sari at her very best.” 

The New York powerhouse singer Schorr added, ‘I’ll Be Moving On’ is quite special because it beautifully encapsulates the synergy between Robin and me. This collaboration weaves together blues, rock, and soul in a way that showcases Robin’s unique musical prowess.” 

The smoky late-night vibe and Bon-like groove of the song is readily apparent and you can check out the lyric video right here at RAMzine.

Establishing his reputation in the late 60s with progressive rock band Procul Harum, then striking gold with a series of solo albums in the 70s and performing live across US stadiums with his power trio, Robin Trower latter formed a band with Jack Bruce and recorded with the likes of Bryan Ferry. This millennium has found him spending more time on UK shores, recording and touring to the delight of fans.

Trower has always been receptive to singers who can elevate his emotive guitar touch – Aside from Bruce, you can include the late Jamie Dewar, Frankie Miller, Davey Pattison, and more recently with Maxi Priest. The 78-year-old heard a quality in the smoky power of acclaimed New York singer Sari Schorr that made him want to tear down and rebuild his songcraft around her.

The greatest moments in Trower’s discography have become required listening for any student of rock ‘n’ roll and the highlights of Joyful Sky are being touted as potentially joining that canon. Among those tracks is ‘Burn’ that was previously released as a lyric video that you can check out here at RAMzine.

’Burn’ is about someone who’s trying to calm down their partner,” he said of the smouldering opening number on the album. That itself, setting up the propulsive and faintly Bond-like groove of ‘I’ll Be Moving On’. “That one gets me right where I live,” said the guitarist. “It’s soulful, has a vibe about it.”

For six decades, Robin Trower’s career has been an act of quiet rebellion. Rewind the reels of the British guitarist’s backstory and you’ll find an artist who has always rolled the dice rather than take the path of least resistance.

While the title of last year’s No More Worlds To Conquer album could be interpreted as a coded farewell, Trower assures fans he has inspiration to burn and no intention of winding down. “If anything, recording new music is even more gratifying now. I love to play the guitar. I love to write songs. That’s what keeps me bouncing. I’ve got all these songs, so I want to get them in the can and ready to go in case my health fails.”

That last album provided the segue into what became Joyful Sky. “The album with Sari started when Alan Robinson of Manhaton Records – who manages both of us – asked if I’d write something for her. The first thing I said to him was that I’d love to hear her sing ‘I Will Always Be Your Shelter’. It’s a really special song to me. I had to completely rearrange it for her. But I knew she’d be wonderful on that song and it all grew from there.” 

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, on her stamping ground of Brooklyn, Schorr still remembers the thrill of taking Robinson’s call. “He told me to think about it, but before he was even finished with the sentence, I’d already committed to the project,” reflected the charismatic belter whose 2018 album Never Say Never was praised for a “husk and muscle voice that demands a little elbow-room in the blues scene” in Classic Rock.
 
“I was already a fan of Robin, absolutely,” Schorr continued. “You don’t want to use the word genius casually, but I believe he is a genius. The way he feels and hears music is so acute, it’s like he has superhuman powers. I had so much faith in his vision. You just grab on and hold tight.”
 
The pair traded demos back and forth online, but in early 2023, Schorr beat a path to Studio 91 in Newbury, where Trower has tracked his solo albums for over a decade. And while the New Yorker admits to early nerves in the presence of this architect of British blues, she fell quickly into the groove with material that felt tailor-made.
 
As the album gathers pace, Joyful Sky kicks out against expectations with the soulful ode to self-empowerment on ‘Change It’, the dramatic guitar effects of the title track and the seven-minute transition of ‘The Circle Is Complete’ from a driving rocker to the kind of mournful extended outro solo at which Trower is nigh-untouchable.
 
Trower’s calling cards might be present but Joyful Sky is no throwback: take the frayed strut of penultimate track ‘Flatter To Deceive’, on which Schorr rages against the shallow end of popular culture circa 2023. “She latched onto the lyric straightaway,” nodded the guitarist. “That song is a commentary on the disease of celebrity todayJoyful Sky is a little bit political, too, the things I’m complaining about. But with the chorus, I wanted to say that we have all these problems in the world but you’ve still got to stay positive.”
 
A literal lifetime since he first stepped onto the British blues circuit as a cub gunslinger, that fabled Trower power shows no sign of burning out. In fact, the iconic guitarist’s late-period acceleration is something to behold, sweeping up new fans alongside the hardcore who have followed his every move. “I think this record is more accessible than the stuff I’ve done over the last few years and I’ve got a feeling it’ll reach more people,” said Trower of Joyful Sky. “At my age, to still be doing it, and still turning out good stuff – you really appreciate what a blessing that is.”

The full track listing for Joyful Sky is ‘Burn’, ‘I’ll Be Moving On’, ‘The Distance’, ‘Peace of Mind’, ‘Change It’, ‘Joyful Sky’, ‘Need For You’, ‘The Circle Is Complete’, ‘Flatter To Deceive’ and ‘I Will Always Be Your Shelter’.

Joyful Sky can be ordered here.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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