Robert Randolph falls into the category of virtuoso artist who has yet to truly capture his talents on a studio album. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, he has good company (contemporaries Trombone Shorty and Gary Clark Jr. quickly come to mind) and is happy to make his way via the live show which he excels at. Got Soul isn’t changing that assessment, but these gospel/funky/blues tunes are all infused with a sense of pop sheen and will be easily transferable to the stage while also working well enough in the headphones.
The pattern seems to be locked in for The Family Band at this point in their studio recording career. Mix all of the styles that they employee, bring in a talented producer (Matt Pierson) along with guests that fit the family philosophy (and who may also bring new ears to the album) then sprinkle in a cover for seasoning. Opening with the pedal steel scratching title track and it’s sister number “She’s Got Soul” the band struts out its style with help from Anthony Hamilton on vocals for the latter. For those new to the group this pairing will instantly let you know what they are about; powerful riffs, clear references to past influences and a sense that they can tear it open when necessary. “She Got Soul” in particular is an energetic rave up, but it also shows some of the drawbacks they have as it runs long and contains a few stutters that keep it from storming the gates.
The band paired up with Darius Rucker for “Love Do What It Do” and the track screams to be a single. This is the most radio friendly the group has ever sounded and could easily be blared out of honky-tonks in Nashville to drunken revelers delight. They Family Band haven’t abandoned the church as “Find A Way” is some heavy gospel and ”Be the Change” calls out to the entire congregation to make a difference, while the funky closer “Gonna Be Alright” provides hope to the masses (“Talking to the black man and the white man too/and the policeman and LGBTQ”). Corey Henry drops by to help with the cover of Sam & Dave’s “I Thank You” that is admirable but not reinventive, while “I Want It” and “Shake It” are fine riff heavy singalongs but don’t add too much to the overall proceedings.
The best tracks on any RR&TFB offering usually come by way of the instrumentals and “Travelin’ Cheeba Man” is a damn good one, but this time “Lovesick” is also a must hear. It has some frenetic funky energy and slamming drums that cook from the drop highlighting Got Soul. With tracks like these, the album will provide kindling for the group to burn up stages across the country on the Family Band’s next tour.