STUNNING COLLABORATION BETWEEN IRISH SINGER AND BLACK CROWES GUITARIST
If, like me, you regularly shake your fist at the sky, pull at your hair, and roar “Why?” when you remember that the Black Crowes are no more, then this record may offer respite. The problem with Chris Robinson’s solo records is that one Grateful Dead was already one too many; the problem with Rich’s is he’s not much of a singer. No such problems with Topanga Mansion, a collaboration between Irish man Dave O’Grady and Rich Robinson himself, which came about after a chance meeting in a Nashville studio.
‘Celtic Wanderings’ and ‘Home’ showcase O’Grady’s fine voice: think Ray Lamontagne and Ben Ottewell from Gomez, aided by Muireann McDermott Long’s harmonies. There’s more than a hint of Gram and Emmylou throughout, with plenty of pedal steel-led Americana. Thirty seconds of the tight but loose ‘Down The River’, heard on Fiachna Ó Braonáin’s radio show, was enough to send me looking for this record in the first place.
Like the Crowes at their best, the rockers here seem to have a found a way to plug back into the early ’70s swagger of The Stones, The Allmans, and The Faces without sinking into parody. The writing is impeccable – ‘Royal Call’ would make Ryan Adams jealous, and most songwriters would gladly do time to write a chorus like the one in ‘No Wasted Words’. The playing, from various Crowes, Raconteurs and Foo Fighters is similarly impeccable; just bask in the wondrous codas of ‘Sister’ or ‘Far From Golden’. It’s one of those rare records that you put on again as soon as it’s finished. I’m very glad I got wind of it. An instant classic. OUT NOW // PAT CARTY