Jimmy Robinson’s excellent 2012 CD is aptly named Guitarworks.
His guitar playing stands out like mountains on the moon; brave, bold,
prominent. On the first cut, “Can’t Stop Drinkin’” his unrestrained yet deft,
percussive guitar technique reminds me of Leo Kottke and Tommy Emmanuel, and
his emotional and flexible voice brings to mind Stephen Stills. He completely
has my attention from the first few notes. This is a very honest and original
song, crying out about the pain of not being able to stop drinking. I feel the
confusion, frustration, self-hatred and staggering, carried along by his
fantastic guitar work.
I’ve kept this one in my CD player in the car. The more I
listen, the more I love it. The impressive fifteen-track album unfolds like
“Everything Must Go” is a song that expresses the heartbreak
of Jimmy’s two sisters over the loss of both of their homes, in the flood in
New Orleans, in 2005. It is punctuated with luxuriant guitar accompaniment.
“Lynne Louise” is a sparkling, enthusiastic, “Embryonic
Journey”-ish instrumental guitar piece, written in memory of his sister. It
shows off Robinson’s expressive and crisp execution.
“You and Me” is cut from musical sailcloth; the harmonies with
Susan Cowsill (remember her?) soar beautifully. Jimmy’s guitar shimmers beneath
the declarations of love. This one was penned for his wife, Ann.
“Colin Brown” is another lush, beautifully played
twelve-string guitar piece. Very Jorma and Leo. Pure listening pleasure for
acoustic guitar lovers, and it was written for a close friend.
“Hurt” by Trent Reznor is a worthy cover. There is almost a “Byrds”
feel to this version. With Johnny Cash’s cover of this song out there, it takes
courage to put forth another. It is not only a first-class interpretation but feels
“Frantic” is another rapid fire, intricately played
instrumental guitar piece with wonderful structure. Impressively precise
“Little Wing”, written by Jimi Hendrix, begins with an
unusual intro by the Bonarama Horns. This is an unpredictable piece and not an
easy song to cover. What I liked about it is Jimmy’s fearlessness to stretch
into different musical strata with this arrangement.
“12 String #2” is a bright, energetic guitar piece,
delivered with acute enunciation.
“River of Tears" is a sad, impassioned folk-rock song
in the tradition of Crosby, Stills and Nash -- with achingly beautiful
harmonies between Susan Cowsill and Jimmy.
“Psycho Gras” gives Jimmy an opportunity to administer another manic and explosive
instrumental beating to his twelve-string again. Really!
“You Make Me Crazy” might have been written while
taking care of someone else’s children. An onomatopoeia song that sounds like
the crazy frustration of which it speaks, with great harmonies by Beth
Patterson. Hopefully, Jimmy got a tranquilizer and a nice nap after he wrote
and recorded this one!
“Morning” is a joyful instrumental guitar piece, in the
style of Windham Hill guitarists Alex deGrassi and William Ackerman. It ends
with an unexpected jazz chord.
“Eight Miles High” is a
cover of a song I really like that I haven’t heard for forty years – speaking of the Byrds! Susan
Cowsill holds this song up like the main support beam of a house – she is present
with an excellent sense of harmony beneath Jimmy’s voice. They climb like
mountain goats all over his enthusiastic guitar playing.
“Nu Slap” ends the album with a jackhammer, Kottke-esque
excursion across the face of the guitar, amidst strums and slaps and wah wahs.
You can learn more about Jimmy Robinson by visiting jimmyrobinsonmusic.com
press photo by res reinhardt, from jimmyrobinson.com