Robin Lane – Dirt Road To Heaven
I was an admirer of Robin Lane (daughter of Dean Martin’s pianist Ken Lane on Dean’s variety show) ever since I heard her Warner Bros albums in the early 80s. As Robin Lane & the Chartbusters’ her classic “When Things Go Wrong” had something special. For me, she was up there with The Pretenders & Chrissie Hynde. She sounded expressive & aggressive simultaneously.
Her albums were favorably reviewed back then & I continued to listen through the years. I bought her 1995 effort without first hearing it — “Catbird Seat,” & found it equally enjoyable.
Robin started out with the folk circuit, but her band albums were closer in style to punk & new wave. She had other studio albums through the years but with the release of the more country-oriented Dirt Road To Heaven (Dropped August 12–Red On Red Records) many believe Robin has produced the best collection of her career.
Robin (guitar/vocals/Omnichord) focuses more on an inspirational range that includes country, rockabilly, chiming Byrds-like guitars on folk rockers (“Sunshine Blue Skies”), folk-alternative, powerful ballads, Americana & a swampy feel (“No Fear”). She should’ve covered some Tony Joe White & J.J. Cale songs.
Robin was familiar with these genres & had sung on a Neil Young album, performed solo & opened for artists like Steve Earle, T-Bone Burnett, Warren Zevon, John Hiatt, Taj Mahal & Richard Thompson.
Robin’s voice still fascinates & has always been distinctive. Now being more mature on this 11-cut collection she really has distinguished herself. Many credible artists play & sing well, they even create wonderful songs — but they neglect style. It’s easy to emulate others but if an artist concentrates on developing a style (Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole) they’ll be far more respected by both the industry & the audience. Robin Lane has style.
Highlights – “Woman Like That,” “Hunny Drummer,” “Faded Leaves,” “Last Cute Minute,” “Love Song’s Refrain,” “Sunshine Blue Skies.”
Musicians – John Pfister (bass/vocals), Dana Brown, Katie Hennessey, Robbie Perkins, Barry Litt, John Sands & Tim Jackson (drums), Asa Brebner & Yani Batteau (banjo), EJ Ouellet (dobro/mandolin), Margot Ouellet (accordion), Suzi Metro (lap steel), Russell Chudnofsky, Drew Townson & Milton Reder (guitar), Pat Wallace (guitar/bass), Suzanne Boucher, Linda Viens & Emily Grogan (backing vocals).