Originally broadcast February 8th, 2014, this live concert film from Empty Sea Studios takes you within just a few feet of singer-songwriter Robert Sarazin Blake as he woos the audience with story and song.
Robert Sarazin Blake's new self-titled album is a huge surprise. In his last few albums, Blake has stressed his collaboration with his backing band and created an impromptu yet fleshed out sound. Here he’s largely alone, just him and his trusty 1978 Martin D-35, with the most spare of accompaniment (most notably Jacob Silver on double bass, Jefferson Hamer and Daniel Zane Maroti on guitars, Robin McMillan on congas, Eamon O’Leary on bouzouki and Anais Mitchell’s lovely backing vocals on the touching “Our Winter on New York”). While his singing style remains influenced by the Phil Ochs School of Dry, Plaintive and Political, there’s a relaxed loveliness to it that suggests a renewed confidence in his striking vision.
The surprise, of course, is what a beautiful collection of music this is. Blake seems to be traveling backward through time on the last few albums–The Air Your Lungs Forced Out seemed very much a product of the Portland music scene’s 2009 infatuation with all things Americana, but Put It All Down in a Letter reached backward toward Ferlinghetti, Kerouac and Ginsberg and was clearly evocative of the day when traveling musicians played to survive and eat their next meal or two. This album, however, resurrects the ghost of Woody Guthrie with its purity and commitment. The nostalgic aspect of Blake’s music is gone and he feels as if he’s truly singing for the New Depression.
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