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Jimmy Robinson's powerful CD "Guitarworks"

CD Review

Sep 7, 2012

Kimmy Sophia Brown

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 this:

“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 personal.

“Frantic” is another rapid fire, intricately played instrumental guitar piece with wonderful structure. Impressively precise fingers, Jimmy!

“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. Love it!

You can learn more about Jimmy Robinson by visiting jimmyrobinsonmusic.com

press photo by res reinhardt, from jimmyrobinson.com

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember. She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.


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