By DONNA BALANCIA
Robert Randolph and the Family Band will release their new studio album, Brighter Days, on May 31 via Mascot Label Group.
Randolph teamed with prolific producer Dave Cobb on Brighter Days. Cobb, who worked on “A Star Is Born,” is best known for his collaborations with Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlile, and Jason Isbell.
The opening songs on Brighter Days go back to Randolph’s gospel roots, starting with lead track “Baptize Me,” a song that associates music to salvation.
“We wrote ‘Baptize Me’ the first day in the studio,” Randolph said. “It’s really a love story, about an all-around love: for each other, for our audience, for our church background, for the music we love and for our fans.
Watch “Second Hand Man” here:
“All of these songs kind-of harken back to how we started, to being known as this musical family band that comes from the church and appeals to rock, blues, gospel and soul music audiences. We wanted that good gospel, blues, R&B feel because that’s where we started and it’s good to not only remind people of that but to actively remember it ourselves.”
Randolph had good things to say about Cobb:
“Dave Cobb is just a guy who likes to record good music and good songs. He wanted to do something that was fun but it also gives you a gospel feeling. He knows the history of our band, coming from church and giving that fun church feeling to people.
Randolph started playing “sacred steel” music, which is gospel played on pedal steel guitar, in the House of God church in Orange, N.J. He began taking his gospel-infused music out to clubs, backed by his family band. His real family.
The Family Band is comprised of his cousins, bassist Danyel Morgan, and drummer Marcus Randolph and his sister, vocalist Lenesha Randolph.
The lone cover song on the album comes from Pops Staples and the Staples Singers who crossed over to secular R and B success. Their “Simple Man” is a deep, contemplative blues, amplified by Randolph’s signature weeping pedal steel guitar lines.
“When you think about Stax music and a lot of music from the ’70s, especially like the Staples Singers, it was inspirational and you danced you had a good time,” Randolph said. “That’s what we really wanted to hone in on here: let’s sound good and have a natural good time that will bring listeners along. All of the music that we played, in the beginning, was what we would play in church. We just turned it into long jams.”
Cobb is renowned for vocal producing work. He brought out some of Randolph’s most effective singing on the nine songs where he leads. Cobb’s secret? He told Randolph: “Just be yourself.”
“Over the years I’ve learned how to write these songs that make you feel kind of spiritual and have the gospel roots, just like the great music of people like the Four Tops, Temptations, and Ray Charles,” Randolph said. “It all comes from the same place. We don’t want to sound like them – or like anybody – but that’s the feeling we want to evoke.”
Brighter Days Tracklisting:
1 Baptize Me
2 Simple Man
3 Cry Over Me
4 Second Hand Man
5 Have Mercy
6 I Need You
7 I’m Living Off The Love You Give
8 Cut Em Loose
9 Don’t Fight It
10 Strange Train