Simply put, Tad Robinson is one of the greats. As a vocalist, few can touch him for spine-tingling emotional honesty. And his harmonica work, often overlooked as he invariably opts for subtlety and restraint, is the equal of all but a handful of the instrumentís innovators.
Robinson is a soul singer, not a blues shouter, and while he can crank out a grinding belly-rubber with the best of Ďem, itís when heís purveying pure soul that he excels. Itís the direction heís been moving in over the course of his career, and with ďA New Point Of ViewĒ heís achieved a near-perfect mix of the sweet and gritty sides of the genre.
Thatís not to say that Robinsonís ever likely to match the likes of, say, Wilson Pickett or James Brown for sheer funky ferocity. Robinsonís approach is smoother, blending Philly-style soul with uptown blues for a sound that borders on downright romantic, employing subtle strings complemented by layered horns that, rather than blasts of brassy bombast, provide softly swelling support throughout. Indeed, the horns, thanks to arranger Willie Henderson, are used almost as though theyíre an alternate string section, an unusual approach that adds an air of undeniable elegance to proceedings.
Robinsonís responsible for the bulk of the writing here, with only two covers among the eleven tracks. The sound is seamless - as strong as individual tracks are, this isnít just an assemblage of songs, itís a carefully crafted collection flows evenly from beginning to end.
Robinsonís supported by long-time friend Alex Schultz on guitars and the tag-team rhythm section of bassist Steve Gomes and drummer Rob Stupka (more or less Severnís house band these days, theyíre as good as it gets) with Kevin Anker providing keys that alternate between sympathetic support and sparkling fills to excellent effect. Schultz in particular is brilliant Ė not heard enough since leaving Rod Piazzaís Mighty Flyers, his complimentary chording behind Tadís vocal lines is integral to the projectís success.
Ultimately, though, itís Robinsonís skills as singer that make this one stand out. His delivery has never been smoother Ė again, heís not the gritty type Ė yet his phrasing wrings every ounce of pain and/or pleasure from every word. He doesnít resort to histrionics to render each line believable; indeed, his quietly understated delivery packs more of an emotional punch than most can muster at full volume.
Although light on blues content, this oneís nothing short of a masterpiece Ė intelligent and engaging music of exquisitely discerning taste. Miss at your peril Ö!