Friday, March 6, 2015


A great voice, great producer, great band, great material, what could go wrong?  In this case, not a thing, as Toronto's Miss Robin Banks shows her stuff with the help of the masterful Duke Robillard.  Modern Classic is an apt title, as Banks' compositions harken back to days when a vocalist owned the bandstand and your ears.  There's some swing, some blues, some R'n'B, jazz, even country, all vintage.  Robillard brought along his stinging guitar, and his stellar band mates, especially those great Roomful of Blues horn men, and long-time baritone sax specialist Doug "Mr. Low" James.  You don't want Banks to stop singing, but when she does pause, it's just as sweet.

The secret weapon here, and what's perhaps even more impressive than her vocal chops, is her songwriting.  Jumping effortlessly from style to style, Banks hits each retro button bang-on.  Some Day Soon is small combo jazz that swings up a storm, with such a spark you just tipped the cigarette girl five bucks.  I'll Meet You There takes us into 70's Memphis soul, as the horns channel the Hi guys.  A Man Is Just A Man is a fun mash-up of styles not unlike what Nick Lowe does to 50's sounds, with an equally-clever lyric:  "Much like a bus, another one will be right along."  This is sophisticated, fun and expertly performed by all.

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