Cutting a different kind of soul blues

Tad Robinson

Seven-time Blues Music Award nominee Tad Robinson releases his sixth album on May 21 at The Slippery Noodle and on May 22 at the Jazz Kitchen. It's his fourth on the Severn label.

Here's a bit from our conversation with Robinson about his new work.

NUVO: I've listened several times to Day Into Night. It's truly fine musically-­— the juxtaposition of instruments as the relationship proceeds feels like a metaphor for different part of the body & soul [inward & outward]; the arc leads me to imagine a soul blues ballet that could be staged with dancers interpreting the lyrics, being inside the music.

Tad Robinson: Now that you say it, it does strike me that the album could be taken as a song cycle where the narrator keeps shapeshifting. In songs like the opener, "Soul Love"; the ballad, "Blue Yesterday"; the blues, "While You Were Gone," and "On Nightwatch," I'm digging deep, singing about memory through the lens of nostalgia, the illusion of love and ultimately being out of sync with love. Two people who have the timing of life wrong, so that the bond won't hold.

But on songs like "Mellow in Love," "Lead Me On," and "Love is a Winner," there's more of a celebratory aspect; the feeling of relief, that a renewable love is present in my life. Those songs are more in touch with the way I really feel. That's what the songs demand; taking a role, empathizing with a character. Finally, the songs "Lonely Talking" and "He's Moved On" are songs about opportunistic love, escape from relationships, escape fom reality. It's all in a day in the life of a soul record.

NUVO: Talk about this kinetic feel and how instrumental spareness draws a listener into emotional layering. 

Robinson: Even though the production on some of the songs includes the full Severn Records house band with horn section and backup singers. There is a less-is-more approach on much of the album. I agree that the sparse arrangements perhaps have a more dramatic impact. Those bare arrangements leave more room for the listener to create, be involved and to feel.

NUVO: What pushed you to an unfolding narrative across emotional terrain?

Robinson: I think the nature of soul music is played out in the soil and roots of that, as you put it, emotional terrain. Soul singers are not operatic, they are not screamers, not rockers, they aren't chops-driven singers. But they are, if nothing else, agents of emotion. We are soothers, pleaders, and a little bit common. The songs that we wrote and recorded for Day Into Night brought me home to that soul plain and from there, I was able to plead my case.


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