Robert Randolph & the Family Band: Got Soul
Considering he grew up playing in the “sacred steel” tradition of the Pentacostal church, there’s a sanctified aura that emanates from just about anything Robert Randolph lays his hands on—that includes, most important, his Fessenden pedal-steel guitar. Of course, as Al Green, Aretha Franklin and many more have taught us, it’s just a short distance from the sacred pews to the secular streets, where soul, funk and the get-down transport the music to another dimension of uplift. Got Soul, Randolph’s fifth studio album with his Family Band, deftly manages to straddle both worlds, from the gospel jump of “She Got Soul” (spurred by Randolph’s stirring vocal intro) to the Southern-fried swing of “Love Do What It Do,” with Darius Rucker channeling Taj Mahal in convincing fashion on the mic. For sheer guitartistry, Randolph delivers his most accomplished work yet; “I Thank You” (with a nod to the ZZ Top version, by way of Isaac Hayes) comes across as a righteous psychedelic, soul romp, while “Travelin’ Cheeba Man” hits the accelerator with the signature quick-pickin’ that often leaves Eric Clapton himself slackjawed with wonder.