Chris Robinson Brotherhood: Phosphorescent Harvest
While Big Moon Ritual and The Magic Door were cut from the same sessions early in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s development, Phosphorescent Harvest has a lush openness and a wealth of carefully placed sounds that a yearlong recording process allows. The CRB’s twin inflections, of psych weirdness and laid-back cowboy rock, get further apart here—the strange gets more ethereal and more precisely mind-bending and the guitars even earthier. The songs, largely co-written by Chris Robinson and Neal Casal, breathe in the juxtaposition. The album is dark and strange and pretty, a collection of love songs. There’s a lot to listen to: complex song structures, recurrent images, hints of a cycle, a system of metaphor being laid out. We hear acoustic strumming, Spanish picking and pedal steel swells, but also urban tones and shout-outs to New York City. Among the most satisfying moments are when the songs break into psych meltdown or prog instrumental. Adam MacDougall’s broad arsenal of organ, electric piano and synth tones is often foregrounded. It’s rock music turned inside out, as the synchronized riffs provide rhythmic context for the synthesized phantasmagoria, which sets the subtle roar of the guitar leads. Robinson’s voice has grown mature, and easy. This band is maturing, too. They’re finding their true sound in the process.