Pedal steel phenomenon Robert Randolph who began playing in churches years ago has released his third studio album, We Walk This Road. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, We Walk This Road counts as Randolph’s finest work. This collection contains Randolph’s renditions of John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Prince songs.
We Walk This Road traverses the last 100 years of American music. Guests on this album include Ben Harper, Leon Russell and drummer Jim Keltner. Keltner plays on the Dylan cover “Shot of Love”. Keltner also drummed on Dylan’s original version of the song. The album is divided by “Segues”. The first, a gospel chant that leads into the old blues standard “Traveling Shoes”. “Segue 2”—ending with a thread of “Segue 1”—leads into the Gray/Hamlin song “Back to The Wall”.
Dylan’s lyrically altered “Shot of Love” made the bard proud he told Randolph. Of course, Grammy-winning T-Bone Burnett worked with Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue tour as well as Sam Shepard and his solo work, which all ties into this CD. Blind Willie Johnson’s tune composes “Segue 3” and Segue 4”. If I Had My Way” serves as a gem and should gain deserved attention. Ben Harper’s soulful voice lends another dimension to this composition.
Now, here’s the crux of Robert Randolph…his own music augments American blues, soul, R & B, rock, funk and jazz within a gospel template. His message is the same to all listeners—love, light and hope. It takes courage to go out and sing about Jesus in this mean and cutthroat world. Even though We Walk This Road is by far his best record—his potential seems limitless. Another Gray/Hamlin tune, “Don’t Change” contains a fearless faith. John Lennon’s “Don’t Want to Be A Soldier Boy” is rendered as if it were a Sunday service at church.
Prince’s “We Don’t Walk” aims for individuality at all costs for anyone willing to listen. “Segue 5” and “6” cover the traditional “Them Bones” with Burnett and Randolph’s contemporary twist that blends funk, soul and R & B into a pedal steel song of faith through the valley of darkness. The final track, “Salvation”, proves to be a mighty fine ballad that defies categorization…good music is good music. We Walk This Road should be in your music collection at home…to ward off any unnecessary darkness…