Roosevelt Collier: Exit 16
Remember when pedal-steel and lapsteel guitars provided that sweet sound that made country music sound like it actually came from the country? That is most definitely not what Roosevelt Collier is all about. Exit 16 , the debut release from the Floridian, is some nasty, mean-ass funky business. Affectionately called “The Dr.,” Collier says his music is meant to heal, but that doesn’t mean he treats it delicately: These seven tracks (three more on the digital) scream and grind and kick and bite. Collier shreds, as evidenced by the title track, which goes deep and heavy at the outset before it goes even deeper and heavier. But all that considered, Collier hasn’t left behind his spiritual roots, either. Coming out of the tradition of sacred steel that also gave the world Robert Randolph, to whom comparisons are inevitable but not wholly justified— both got their start at House of God churches, albeit in different parts of the country—Collier’s workouts exude buoyancy, even as he coaxes all sorts of grit from his machines. No song with the title “Church” ever felt this weighty, and while “Happy Feet” sure does make you want to get up and shake ‘em, don’t anticipate some chirpy little ditty. It is no big surprise that Snarky Puppy’s Michael League produced and plays on Exit 16 — digging to the core of any situation is what he does—and the other players, including JT Thomas (drums) and Bobby Sparks (organ), are ideal coconspirators. Collier has been called “the Jimi Hendrix of steel guitar.” That may be overstating things, but his ability to churn things up is the real deal.