Procol Harum

the Pale

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The Playful Heart

Robin Trower's 2010 CD reviewed by Andy Snipper at

Robin Trower has been as much a joy to me over the years as he has a trial to many other critics. Since Bridge of Sighs many of the critics have dumped him in the bag marked ‘Hendrix copyist’ but this is both unfair and patently untrue and The Playful Heart – his 31st album either solo, with Procul [sic] Harum or others – is one of the best things he has ever done.

The guitar playing is soulful and full of blues heart but he has melancholic touches that seem to make the instrument more of a voice than any other guitarist. His vocals seem slightly lighter in tone than they have for a while and the sense of power and confidence that has been lacking for a while is back. Davey Pattison’s vocals elsewhere are excellent and provide a counterpoint to Trower’s. Glenn Letsch (bass) and Pete Thompson (drums) are exactly what Trower needs to bring his music out fully formed.

The songs on this album are definitely among the best he has written and overall he is sounding as good as he has for years.

The title track kicks the album off and the slow, almost funereal, pace of the opening giving way to a powerful chorus is quintessential Trower and sets the album up perfectly. The Turning has all the elements you would associate with Robin Trower, complex blues riff and dream-laden lyrics, all played with pace and passion and Maybe I Can Be A Friend proves he can still write a ballad better than anyone with a solo that hits so deep and strong that it positively resonates your soul. Prince of Shattered Dreams is full the language of a broken relationship but he manages to avoid the bitterness in his sound that the words suggest. The rockiest number in the set is Not Inside – Outside and the band let themselves go with a sense of enjoyment before the album closer, And We Shall Call it Love, delivers the listener via a powerful love blues, slow and emotionally dense.

Sadly, this won’t win over those critics who continue to denigrate Robin Trower but his fans and the critics who can see past the trite ‘copyist’ tags will find some of the best work he has ever done here. An album full of his trademarks but also more complete and confident than anything he has done in a while.

Robin Trower's page at BtP

Buy the CD from Amazon USA or Amazon UK

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