A picture of a fading sunset over a backroad cornfield adorns the cover of soul/blues singer Tad Robinson’s excellent new release “Day Into Night” from Severn Records. The last remnants of golden peach daylight plaster the sky as the clouds become shrouded in night’s darkness. The portrait captures an inevitable moment, when night overtakes day. Robinson deals with the inevitable heartaches and joys that love can bring to a person on “Day Into Night” and does so with a musicianship of the highest appreciation and understanding of 1960’s soul and blues. It is inevitable that when Robinson’s album is playing, you will have to take notice of his wonderful music.
The sailboats and Old Bay of Annapolis, Maryland certainly don’t seem like a ripe spot for quality soul music, but Robinson is proof there is some soul in the tiny port capital. This is Robinson’s first release since 2010’s “Back in Style” and features some of the most veteran Annapolis players in support. The Severn Records house band of Johnny Moeller on guitar, Kevin Anker on keyboards, Steve Gomes on bass and Robb Stupka on drums anchor the record into place, with additional contributions from blues guitarists Alex Schultz and Anson Funderburgh and a horn section consisting of Kenny Rittenhouse (trumpet), Liesl Whitaker (trumpet), Antonio Ora (tenor sax) and Bill Holmes (srombone).
The stellar “Soul Lover” opens the album, as atmospheric guitar leads you into a state between dream and consciousness before the sultry horns snap you into focus. It is a sensuous groove that beautifully encapsulates the spirit of passionate love. Robinson’s vocals are full and soothing and cradle you to the end of the song. He has an elegant texture to his voice, and it is upon which he has defined his soulful sound. On “Lonely Love,” Robinson muses about the doubts that begin to creep inside you while entangled in a complex relationship and his soulful voice brings an emotional honesty to the song. His vocals are paired nicely with guest guitarist Anson Funderburgh, who beautifully follows Robinson’s passionate phrasing and with tight picking. It is the bluesiest track on the album and there is a warm intensity brought by the pairing of Robinson and Funderburgh. Robinson does more than sing as well and lends his harp playing on the shuffling “While You Were Gone.”
While Robinson’s voice is the defining aspect of his music, the Severn Records house band members dictate in what setting his voice will flourish. They are an excellent unit that float along with Robinson and move in a harmonious fashion. The elegant soul of “Mellow In Love” is played with very fine care and tenderness suited to the loving vocals from Robinson. On “Nightwatch,” the band holds onto a groove that melts in your mouth while guitarist Alex Shultz lends a charmingly flirty rhythm and the horn section adds a sultry texture to the affair. It is a bright spot on the album and is wonderful display of the velvety touch of the band. Throughout the album, the band is never excessive and ensures all the accompaniments serve the essence of each song.
“Day Into Night” is a wonderful surprise. It is hard to believe all the talented musicians who are tucked away in tiny nooks across the nation. Robinson is one of those great talents and hopefully his tender soul music will reach many ears outside of his Chesapeake home. It has certainly reached a pair in the Sierra Nevada.
- Tad Robinson
“Day Into Night”
Label: Severn Records
Notable Tracks: “Soul Lover,” “Nightwatch”