Robert Randolph & the Family Band, 'We Walk This Road' (Warner Bros.)

8
We Walk This Road
Critical Mass
Label: Warner Bros.

by Jon Young

A product of the "sacred steel" scene that incorporates steel guitar into Pentecostal church services, Robert Randolph could charm the crankiest of infidels with his irresistible fourth album. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, Randolph brings old-time uplift to driving beats, from "If I Had My Way," a rowdy update of early bluesman Blind Willie Johnson (guest starring Ben Harper on vocals) to his twist on modern R&B ("Back to the Wall"). Throughout, Randolph's playing is joyously flashy, yet never glib or predictable. For more, see the slinky cover of Dylan's "Shot of Love."

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