When the Chris Robinson Brotherhood headed into the studio to begin recording their new album, 'Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel', no one knew just what to expect. These would be the band's first recordings with new drummer Tony Leone (Ollabelle, Levon Helm), their first since the departure of founding bassist Mark "Muddy" Dutton, and their first time producing themselves. But as anybody who's been following the CRB can attest, this is a band that thrives on the unexpected.
If you need proof, just go back to 2012, when they first emerged on the national stage by releasing not one, but two acclaimed full-length albums within a few months of each other. Critics hailed their sprawling debut, 'Big Moon Ritual', as a revelation, with Uncut calling it a "tenderly-executed piece of work... [that's] both earthy and transcendent", while The Independent raved that Robinson had "finally found the ideal vehicle to indulge his taste for 'Cosmic California Music.'" The reviews were similarly ecstatic for it's immediate follow-up, 'The Magic Door', which was praised by Relix as "classic rock in the finest sense." The band's relentless tour schedule brought their shimmering acid-Americana around the world for a staggering 118-date tour, firmly establishing the CRB as the new standard-bearers of the psychedelic roots torch.
In 2014, they returned to the studio for 'Phosphorescent Harvest,' a masterful collection that showcased the blossoming songwriting partnership between Robinson and guitarist Neal Casal. Rolling Stone raved that the album was "electrifying... boast[ing] a vintage rock vibe that's at once quirky, trippy, soulful and downright magnetic," and Guitar World called it" a treasure trove of soul that advances the band's bluesy, kaleidoscopic sound."
On each of those albums, the songs and arrangements had been locked in prior to the sessions, but heading back into the studio for 'Any Way You Love,' Robinson purposely left as much open-ended as possible, embracing the line-up changes and leaning into the virtuosic improvisational chemistry that's always made their live shows such enthralling spectacles.
"Instead of seeing these things as challenges, we started to see them as something exciting," explains Robinson. "It was an opportunity to see where our expression could take us. Some people get really uptight when they're making records, but for us, the looser it gets the better. It's all about taking our intuition and following it to where our ideas can really manifest themselves. This turned out to be the most spontaneous record I've ever been a part of."
Not coincidentally, Robinson also cites it as perhaps the best recording experience of his life. The band relocated to northern California for the sessions, recording on the side of a mountain overlooking the foggy Pacific Ocean and channelling the natural majesty and melancholic weather of their surroundings into the album's eight, epic, immersive tracks.
A1 Narcissus Soaking Wet
A2 Forever As The Moon
B1 Ain't It Hard But Fair
B2 Give Us Back Our Eleven Days
C1 Some Gardens Green
C2 Leave My Guitar Alone
D1 Oak Apple Day
D2 California Hymn
CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD 2xLP Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel
Label: Silver Arrow Records – SAR16 LP
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, 45 RPM, Album
Country: USA & Europe
Released: 29 Jul 2016