Legendary guitarist Robin Trower is back with his latest slab of psychedelic blues rock, this one titled The Playful Heart. Chock full of everything we've come to love from Trower for the past 40+ years, The Playful Heart also features longtime vocalist Davey Pattison, drummer Pete Thompson, and bassists Glenn Letsch & Livingstone Brown.
There's no shortage of fiery rockers and smoldering blues excursions here, like the upbeat "Don't Look Back", and the moody "The Turning", the latter featuring some of Trower's most soul searching solos in years. The funky "Dressed in Gold" has some tasty wah-wah licks and killer grooves, while the dark & menacing "Find Me" includes a red hot extended blues jaunt from the guitarist to close out the piece. Long standing fans though will love the funk-rock workout of "Song For Those Who Fell", a crankin' number that sees Trower live up to his guitar hero status, as he delivers some awesome fuzz & wah wah drenched solos. Other hot tracks include the exciting title track, the somber "Maybe I Can Be a Friend" (which is like a lost distant cousin to the classic "Daydream"), and the hard rocker "Not Inside-Outside", which features a great vocal from Pattison.
Speaking of Pattison, he's his 'solid as always' self on The Playful Heart, but sadly he only appears on 5 tracks here, as the rest are sung by Trower himself. It's been the trend the last few albums to have the guitarist singing some of the songs, and while he's not an awful singer, he's really not that good, certainly inferior to the fine Pattison. Considering the high standard the late Jimmy Dewar set in Trower's classic line-up in the 70's & early 80's, it's a shame he insists on adding his mediocre vocals at times instead of letting Pattison assume the role. Trower always excels when having a strong vocalist (like his legendary back catalog with Dewar, or albums with Jack Bruce), and though the songs on The Playful Heart are some of his best in years, and contain his always killer guitar work, I'm going to knock this one down slightly due to his slightly less than average vocals on half the songs. Otherwise, this is another outstanding release from one of rock's unsung guitar heroes.
01. The Playful Heart — 4:05
02. Don't Look Back — 5:03
03. The Turning — 6:22
04. Dressed in Gold — 3:38
05. Find Me — 6:20
06. Song for Those Who Fell — 3:41
07. Maybe I Can Be a Friend — 6:18
08. Prince of Shattered Dreams — 6:11
09. Camille — 4:33
10. Not Inside – Outside — 3:26
11. And We Shall Call It Love — 7:51