Former Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson gets a lift from the group’s one-time guitarist Audley Freed on “This Magnificent Distance,” his debut for Vector Recordings. Due June 29, the set features one Robinson/Freed co-write plus several tracks featuring Freed on guitar. In addition, Freed has joined Robinson’s backing band New Earth Mud, which now features bassist George Reiff, drummer Steve Distanislao and keyboardist Rob Barraco, who until recently was a member of the Dead.
The set is the follow-up to Robinson’s 2002 solo debut, “New Earth Mud” (Redline), which reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and No. 4 on the Top Independent Albums tally. Five songs were penned by Robinson, while six are co-writes with frequent collaborator Paul Stacey, who also co-produced. The tracks “Mother of Stone” and “Like a Tumbleweed in Eden,” were produced by Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Counting Crows).
Highlights include the Crowes-leaning “Mother of Stone” and first single “40 Days,” the soulful vocal performance on “Like a Tumbleweeed in Eden” and “Girl on the Mountain,” which recalls the trippy, haunting side of Pink Floyd. The album also features the 8-minute “When a Cold Wind Blows on the Dark Edge of Night.”
“My first album sounds like a Sunday morning record — it’s about being in love — and this one brings up a lot of questions about freedom,” Robinson says. “And what does freedom mean, because I don’t think it’s the freedom to consume. I think in America people have forgotten their imagination.”
Robinson and New Earth Mud will begin an extensive tour April 30 in New Orleans and will also make a previously announced June 11 appearance at the Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tenn. Beginning July 4 in Portland, Ore., the group will open six dates for the Allman Brothers Band.