|Trevor Rabin - 'Jacaranda' (Varèse Vintage Records)|
|Written by Russ P|
|Friday, 23 March 2012 05:00|
The prospect of a new album from Trevor Rabin is a double-edged sword. The man is so eclectic in his talents that I'm not sure if I'm going to get film composer Rabin or songsmith Rabin. A quick scan of the press release mentions that this is his first album since 'Can't Look Away' in 1989, which I love. So I'm already dancing around the room in celebration before I realise that I haven't pressed the play button.
'Spider Boogie' is a short funky, bluesy guitar piece finger plucked and chicken picking good. A nice piece of studied anticipation for when the vocals come in on the second track 'Market Street'. This one has a Steve Morse feel to it. Clean, fast, intricate. Classical, choral and chordal. Which gives way to stabbing guitar chords harking back to Rabin's time in Yes. Could this be where the vocals come in? By the time the lead guitar and organ introduce themselves I take another look at the tracklist: 'Anerley Road', 'Through The Tunnel', The Branch Office', 'Killarney 1 & 2' - and my face plummets like someone who's just been pickpocketed. The vocals aren't coming are they?
No they aren't.
OK. A quick shift of mindset is needed. Because it definitely isn't all doom and gloom. Anyone at all familiar with Rabin whether it's from Rabbitt, his solo albums, his tenure with Yes or his prolific life as a film composer, know that he creates good music in whatever format.
'Through The Tunnel' restates my Dregs meets Yes comparison of earlier - very progressive jazz rock fusion. The layers of complexity and composition are quite astounding. And what's more after over 35 years as a recording artist, at a time when most musicians are comfortably stagnating, Rabin seems to have upped his game. His guitar playing is technically at a high which implies a hunger and drive equal to a man a third of his age. Refer to 'Storks Bill Geranium Waltz' and 'Freethought' where Rabin now adds traditional guitar jazz to his already veritable store of styles.
The nearest to a vocal track that we have is 'Rescue' which is adorned with the heavenly solo voice of Liz Constintine. It's straight out of a motion picture soundtrack. It's that scene where the village has just been razed to the ground, the charred and severed heads of your parents lying on the ground and tears running down a newly orphaned child's dirty face. In actual fact it's inspired by 'The Guardian' - where some people see Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner I see severed heads.
'Killarney 1 & 2' proves that Rabin's formative piano lessons weren't a complete waste of money before he threw it all away when he first picked up an electric guitar. And it's guitar he returns to when he thumps out 'Me And My Boy' which alternates between stomping rock and subdued jazz rock fusion à la Billy Cobham.
So, I'm going to have to wait a little longer for singer/songwriter Rabin to reappear. 'Jacaranda' isn't the return that I was presumptuously excited about. There's no 'Sorrow (Your Heart)' and there's no 'I Can't Look Away' but, if you're in an instrumental mood, like a bit of classic music, know your Dixie Dregs from your Dixie Chicks and know of Rabin's past work then this is certainly something you should let your ears know about. And there is another plus - I realise that I haven't put 'Can't Look Away' on my iPod - now all I have to do is find the damned CD - it's around here somewhere...
To get your copy of 'Jacaranda' - Click Here