Review: Robert Randolph and The Family Band, ‘Got Soul’

Written by Andrew Howie

Sometimes an album comes along that is so powerful and joyous that you start dancing in your living room by yourself to the bewilderment of your dogs. The new album from slide guitar master Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Got Soul, is just that. It slides from greasy New Orleans-style barbecue music to rollicking, bombastic rock anthems with the ease and dexterity one would expect from such a veteran group.

Regular readers will know I am strong advocate of listening to an album straight through in its entirety, and Got Soul is one of the most pleasant records for this. Just when you start wondering if the same song is still playing, a new riff comes out of nowhere, bright and shredding, melting into some fiery Delta blues with a chorus of gospel backing vocals that just brightens your soul.

This time of year is when music is best enjoyed outside. The sun stays out later, the air smells of grills, and porches everywhere are filled with the sound of music. Robert Randolph and the Family Band have always been on the forefront of groove-heavy Delta soul, and they keep that train right on going with Got Soul. Songs like the virtuosic “Heaven’s Calling,” the uplifting “Be the Change”, and the breakneck “Travelin’ Cheeba Man” are just some of the highlights, but be sure and listen to the whole thing and take it all in. It’s impossible not to smile.

I’ve seen Robert Randolph and the Family Band a couple times here and there, and they put on a killer live show. I for one can’t wait to see how this music translates into a live setting, with that dynamic stomp behind it and the gritty, dusty slide guitar snaking in and out of the soaring vocal melodies and harmonious interplay between the rhythm section and backing singers. Got Soul is one of the most cohesive records I’ve heard recently, and after listening I felt like I physically felt better. I hope it does the same for you. Happy listening!

Got Soul Rating: 8 out of 10