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Robben Ford: Supernatural

Guitar hero Robben Ford, one-time sideman to Miles Davis and bonafide blues rock star, takes the blue-eyed soulman approach on Supernatural (Stretch/Blue Thumb BT3P-90154; 58:05). A slick, big budget pop project produced by Susan Rogers, who has worked with Prince and David Byrne, it highlights Ford’s exuberant vocals and plays down the guitar hero trip. On the upbeat, McCartney-esque “Deaf, Dumb and Blind (for O.T.)” and the gospel-flavored “Water For The Wicked” he is joined by former Yellowjackets bandmate Russell Ferrante on piano. “If” is a bittersweet ballad performed on nylon string acoustic guitar and enhanced by lush strings arranged by Roger Kellaway. Tunes like “When I Cry Today” and “Hey, Brother” play right into the Steely Dan-Boz Scaggs audience while the sweet and mellow “You Got Me Knockin'” sounds directly informed by vintage James Taylor. Only on the aggressive “Lovin’ Cup” does Ford throw his former blues fans a bone by letting loose with some wickedly inspired guitar work. Supernatural is the album that is supposed to get Robben over in the international pop market, like the strategic leap that Eric Clapton made from his Bluesbreakers days to the widely acclaimed 461 Ocean Boulevard. But Ford’s old fans may not approve of this new direction.

Originally Published