Doug Robinson is an accomplished jazz artist with several self-released recordings featuring major talent such as Mike Stern and Peter Erskine. MIDLIFE CHRYSALIS seems at first a dramatic departure from all that. Doug writes sometimes serious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek vocal numbers that deal with growing old, good loves gone bad, optimistic infatuations and other roadside attractions. The fact that each song sits on top of complex but surprisingly accessible instrumental tracks makes this an album that fans of both The Band and Steely Dan might find intriguing. Most listeners won't care that every instrument is played (not programmed) by Robinson...unless they've tried and failed to create such a rocking and organic-sounding recording themselves. Track four, With Us/Against Us, is Robinson's wicked political satire in the mold of classic Randy Newman tracks like Rednecks and Short People. The singer starts off reasonably patriotic, but slowly descends into something a bit more extreme. Comparisons to Randy Newman, Paul Simon and Rupert Holmes are likely to pop up, but Robinson's MIDLIFE CHRYSALIS is, in the end, a thoroughly original surpise.
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