CD New Ground [Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise] (CD 166545),
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New Ground [Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise]
Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise
2. See Her
5. Feel the Fire
6. Exist for Love
8. Willie Lee
9. Ride My Wave
10. Fast Lane
11. Young Girls
12. Born in America
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 79597
Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise: Robert Bradley (vocals, piano); Matt Ruffino (vocals, guitar); Randall Sly (vocals, keyboards); Tommy Wilber (vocals, bass); Jeff Fowlkes (vocals, drums).
Additional personnel: Jay Joyce (guitar, keyboards, loops); Bob Britt (lap steel guitar); Mickey Raphael (harmonica); Giles Reaves, Carl Hergesell (keyboards); Etta Britt, Vicki Carrico, Jen Cohen, Marna Taylor, Emma Grandillo, Max The Dog (background vocals).
Recorded at Triple J's House Of Poultry, Nashville, Tennessee.
Personnel: Robert Bradley (vocals, piano); Randall Sly (vocals, keyboards); Jeff Fowlkes (vocals, drums); Jay Joyce (guitar, keyboards, loops); Matt Ruffino (guitar); Bob Britt (lap steel guitar); Mickey Raphael (harmonica); Carl Hergesell, Giles Reaves (keyboards); Emma Grandillo, Max The Dog, Jen Cohen, Maria Taylor, Vickie Carrico, Etta Britt (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Jay Joyce.
Recording information: Nashville, TN; Triple J's House Of Poultry.
Photographer: Jack Spencer.
Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise is essentially a bar band, distinguished quite a bit from innumerable similar acts by their lead singer. Bradley sings with an earnest slur that has more authentic echoes of blues and R&B than most such frontmen, landing in a sort of netherland twixt Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, and Ted Hawkins at times. His songs are earnest too, exuding a hard-won optimism and working-man's head-down forbearance. The production takes some unusual chances, with synthesizers that manage to assert themselves not as gratuitous concessions to modernity, but as reasonably effective counterpoints to the songs' coping-with-urban-tribulations vibe. "Profile" puts some funky hard backbeat and non-rap electronics to good use, and "See Her" would be a logical choice to push as a single with its upbeat soul groove. "Born in America" is the sort of non-ironic patriotism that you could expect to be hearing a lot of in the period immediately following late 2001, though it was actually written in 1979 on the first day after American hostages were taken in Iran. New Ground is nothing special, and not very new ground, but it's a respectable maximization of what this journeyman band has to offer. ~ Richie Unterberger
Q (6/02, p.112) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...NEW GROUND is a great showcase. [Bradley's] distinctive, husky voice combines pleading with urgency in an affecting non-histrionic way..."
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Vanguard VCD 79597
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