Reviews Zone

EXCLUSIVE: Chris King Robinson: She’s Got Nine Lives EP (self released) Out now

4 Stars (4 / 5)

You have probably never heard of this 21-year-old guitar player, singer and songwriter from deepest Peterborough way. Chris King Robinson. But you will…………

If you are a guitarist, and love the blues, chances are you have. Chris has 600,000 plus followers on Twitter and a large YouTube fan-base of guitarists.

His second EP release, the seven track “She’s Got Nine Lives,” looks good. Retro Fillmore East style artwork, which I really like. It’s cool and nice to see no ego in play; zero image of the artist on the front or back of the CD cover.

So. CKR on guitars and lead vocals. The very clever Zac Ryan on keyboards and BVs, Nig Turner on bass and Steve Simmonds locking it all down, totally watertight at the back. Clean and solid, non fussy production from Chris and Stephen James.

The guitar cuts through like a biiittccchhh, but is not overpowering the rest of the instruments or the voice. The vocal production is subtle and adds big value methinks.

His vocal causes no major upset to the ears, clearly a work in progress, but of major label singers I have heard just this week on records for review, this kid should not be worried. But he should aim to improve that instrument as much as does his guitar playing.

The material; a pretty even listen between the three originals and the covers. We get five live cuts and two from the studio. No dip in audio quality from live to studio, which is unusual.

On his main promo’ photo, he is sat on stone steps in a doorway outside with a white Strat’, wearing a black leather jacket and quiffed hair. He‘s got the young ‘Lennon in Hamburg’ look going on and it suits him. But the guitar playing skills you would not expect to come from this fresh faced whipper snapper.

Here’s a wee clue as to how decent he is as a player: “Wow. Just listened to your song. Sounds great.” Kenny Wayne Shepherd​. “You sound amazing! Congratulations, Chris!”   Philip Sayce. “Perfect tone dude!!!! You are the man, I enjoy your stuff!!!!” Robert Randolph. Those cats know really how to plaaaayyyy.

Chris King Robinson’s musical career may have started at nine, when he got hold of his first Fender Stratocaster, but his love of the blues began at a much earlier age; growing up listening to guitar legends such as: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix & Buddy Guy.

Fast forward to 2011, when after thousands of hours spent learning his craft and dozens of clips uploaded to YouTube, Chris was awarded the accolade of being one of the top undiscovered guitarists worldwide by the acclaimed international music photographer Robert Knight; who in partnership with guitar manufacturer Fender was searching the globe to find the next great guitarist.

In 2013, Chris’ online popularity began to soar, after gaining millions of hits on YouTube, he quickly established himself as Twitter’s most followed blues guitarist worldwide. Really. That spurred him on to self-produce and release his first single” “Lipstick On Her Cigar” The track hit number one on the iTunes & Amazon Blues charts, after just one day.

In 2014, Chris formed his own four-piece group: ‘The Chris King Robinson Band’ quickly getting across the water to blast the stages of many European blues gigs and festivals as well as treks around the UK.

As word of Chris’s incendiary live performances spread; in July 2014 his band headlined The Suwalki Blues Festival in Poland, where in front of thousands of fans, Chris cemented his reputation as one of the finest young guitarists out there. 2015 was a defining year for Chris, as fresh from a hugely successful two week tour of the USA, his debut EP “Tell Me Why You’re Scared,” set the Blues world alight by flying straight to number one on both the Amazon and iTunes album charts.

Chris’s modern take on the blues won him a slot on the Lead Belly Fest bill at famed Carnegie Hall in New York, in February 2016.  Introduced by Marky Ramone, Chris played a scorching set to the sold out crowd who were well and truly wowed, holding his own in the company of  Walter Trout, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, fellow Brit’ Laurence Jones and Buddy Guy.

He teaches guitar and plays in a covers function band, while running his own band. He collects vintage gear, which he often uses on stage and in the studio. A 1960 Leslie cab features on the latest EP.  His band are regular visitors to Europe, with lots of gigs played over there this year in August and November.

The EP kicks off with the title track, a very strong song with a decent hook. SRV, The Hoax approach on guitar and the effect, and a tad Jimi H on the vocal treatment. All good. Got my attention from the off. Impressive guitar work. This song crops up again as the closer with the radio edit version.

Second track in, “I Know You Want Me Tonight,” at  two mins and 25 seconds, he does a vocal run a la Stevie Wonder on a different vocal approach to the first cut. This is a breathy, super controlled effort. Those vocal coaching sessions are paying off.

The third original, “Tell Me Why You’re Scared,” Live, Robert Johnson’s old chestnut, “Crossroads,” Live as the CD bonus (not on the download version), another CD bonus track, JB Lenoir’s “Talk To Your Daughter, and yet another, John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples,” completes the record. All feature some stunning guitar playing and palpable chemistry between Chris and his band.

Nothing dodgy here. Nothing I would have left off it.   A superb calling card for this young chap. The next big thing in British blues guitarists?  That remains to be seen….there’s a fair few of ‘em out there already, and they get younger!

 

By Simon Redley

 


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