New Earth Mud sounds like a man surviving his worst professional fear…in this case Chris Robinson facing the breakup of his band, the Black Crowes. These twelve songs evoke a quiet, laid back mood as if subdued sounds reconcile a faded past with an unknown future. Robinson wrote these songs in Malibu, California, and recorded the album in France during the spring of 2002.
The earthy collection begins with the most upbeat song on the album, “Safe In The Arms of Love.” “Silver Car” and “The Kids That Ain’t Got None”, songs co-written with Black Crowes keyboardist Eddie Harsch, emerge as two of the albums more complex tracks. Robinson plays acoustic guitar and multi-talented cohort Paul Stacey flanked by Stacey’s brother Jeremy on drums, with Matt Jones on keyboards, command various musical styles on the CD. Paul Stacey’s underplayed guitar expertise threads each song. If forced to categorize what the music sounds like, one could say Robinson navigated for the musical territory of the Band, Neil Young, Al Green, and Gram Parsons.
Every composition emits a subtle hook of influence. “Could You Really Love Me” visits R & B dimensions, “Untangle My Mind” resembles astral weeks jazz, “Fables” remains tinctured folk, and “Sunday Sound” written with ex-Crowes guitarist, Marc Ford, resonates a country flavor.
The final turn of the album steers towards quiet, acoustic love songs such as “Barefoot By the Cherry Tree” and “Katie Dear”——then progressing onto psychedelic road trips like “Better Than The Sun” and “She’s On Her Way.”
Listeners searching for a gritty Black Crowes sound may face an early morning wake up call, but those curious to hear a musician face change, move onward, and continue writing songs——then New Earth Mud may just propel you into the wild blue yonder.
- James Calemine