It’s been slightly less than two years since Robin Trower released his last solo record “Time And Emotion” but it has seemed this decade in particular that he had plenty to say.
“Coming Closer To The Day” is his sixth record since 2010, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out the psychological inference in its title. Trower, is after all, 73, and he’d be well entitled to think about his mortality.
And yet, the title track is quite certain on something: “stop counting every step, and be free” offers the spoken word bit here.
That freedom is all over this too. Indeed, the whole record is relaxed, possessing what might be best described as stoicism maybe, a bit of a lugubrious world-weary air.
The vibe is slow, meandering, but dear me, Trower has a rare ability to create lead guitar that is mesmeric and casts him as surely one of the finest players this country has ever produced.
“Diving Bell” – the one that the man himself says is his favourite here – kicks off with the thought “there’s nothing of myself I want to keep” and when you’re starting with that, then things are only going to get bleaker, right?
“Truth Or Lies” has a touch of Bob Dylan about it. I’ve always thought that Trower at his best had an air of “Time Out Of Mind” era Dylan about him and this definitely has.
It is striking too, that there isn’t much here that is as lengthy as some of his recent work – the 12 songs here are done in 50 minutes – but you feel too that when he plays the brilliant “Ghosts” in a live setting, then this will be the piece of timeless outright blues that he jams his way through.
“Tide Of Confusion” recalls Hendrix, but it deals with the modern world. “People flood like a river, after the rain, with hopes that no one can deliver” he sings – and like everyone else it finds no real answers.
“The Perfect Wrong” comes in with a real blues thump, almost stomping, while “Little Girl Blue” changes the mood completely. It almost floats by. There is a shimmering, psychedelic breeze blowing through this, which is at odds with the lyrics, but that alone shows the skill of the songwriting here.
“Someone Of Great Renown” could have been on last years Mark Knopfler record, while if the title track faces mortality head on, then “Lonesome Road” allows itself something of a muse on life on the road – after all he’s been a touring musician for over 50 years.
I am not – and never will be – a musician, and am in awe of those, like Trower, that can make the guitar convey the emotions he does on this collection. “Tell Me” appears to be a direct rebuke to those who moan and never do anything to change things, but the sound as much as the lyrics appears to convey the message. On the flip side, on the simple “Don’t Ever Change” he coaxes a real loving sound out of the instrument, and the suggestion that he is far from done – in any sense – is shot through “Take Me With You” which yearns for new experiences.
And that maybe is how Trower keeps things fresh. “I’m saying that I’m nearer the end than the beginning,” he explained when talking about the album. “But that doesn’t scare me. Not at all. If I went tomorrow, I’d feel like I’d been blessed with being able to achieve an incredible amount as a musician.”
“Coming Closer To The Day” is evidence of two things. First that Robin Trower still has an incredible ability. And second, although the end is drawing closer as it is for us all, he’s nowhere near the finish.