Where previous Chris Robinson Brotherhood albums have felt like scrappy dust-ups of early R&B with Bakersfield country and organic psychedelia, Anyway You Love has the feel of the 1970s. The CRB was built for Gestalt—for group mind. With drummer Tony Leone newly aboard and bassist Ted Pecchio subbing, that Gestalt is in flux. This transitional lineup is experimenting with a new fusion, both a light funk and a rootsier folk rock. These two modes alternate across the record, woven together by textures and tones that are CRB signatures, and becoming, at times, a sort of psychedelic soul music. The opening track “Narcissus Soaking Wet” feels like a hybrid of Angeleno funk with the Sausalito style (Stevie Wonder at The Record Plant), while keyboardist Adam MacDougall employs a Worrell-inspired Parliament-Funkadelickery. Yet “Forever As the Moon” opens with piano and acoustic guitar. It’s an epic poem, Robinson’s imagery and phrasing foreboding, the backing vocals cataclysmic. We also taste the electro-prog that Robinson has suggested would be this band’s evolution: On “Give Us Back Our Eleven Days,” Neal Casal’s guitar leads squeal over Leone’s complex drumline and a simple, dark progression of guitar and bass, while Robinson’s soul shoutings wash in as background noise. Then, “California Hymn” is a cross-country nod to The Band, MacDougall’s clavinet a wink at Richard Manuel. It’s also a circling back to The Black Crowes’ Before The Frost…Until the Freeze—perhaps with Robinson remembering what he’d been up to before that rig came tumbling into this one.
– Richard B. Simon Relix