This JUST in, from John Vermilyea of the Blues Underground Network…
“Ride The Iron Road” marks the second album I have received from Franc Robert with the previous one being his 2012 release “Mulligan Stew” as Franc Robert & the Boxcar Tourists. “Mulligan Stew” was an album that really impressed me a lot, to the point where I even included it in my Blues Underground Network’s Top 10 USA Blues Albums 2012 List, of which some of what I wrote about that album was, “Franc Robert & the Boxcar Tourists are a rare group whom have put together a rare album indeed in “Mulligan Stew”, as this is the kind of great music that does not come around that often. I can only imagine how great it would be to play this album when camping around the campfire, as this one just has that right feel to it that can really warm the soul .” For “Ride The Iron Road”, Franc Robert has again brought us another rare treat, this time without The Boxcar Tourists as he goes Solo with just his great Voice and an equally great assortment of Guitars, which included, a National Style 1 tricone, Slide, a no-name dobro, Martin D-1R, and a 1921 Martin O-18.
“Ride The Iron Road” marks Franc Robert’s first return to his Acoustic side since his 2011 release “Why Do I Never Win”, as he offers up 11 original Tracks and 3 great Covers, “St. James Infirmary”, “Mississippi Blues”, and “Railroad Blues”. Franc Robert covers a fair bit of ground on “Ride The Iron Road”, which could be categorized as Son House Influenced, Modern Blues, and even Blues of a more Humorous nature. When you also include the Traditional three Covers, you can easily see how nicely diversified “Ride The Iron Road” is. Also with it’s diversification, comes it’s Authentic feeling side, brought to the forefront with a more Traditional length to all but one of the albums Tracks, for which the most part, fall in the under three minute category, with the opening Track actually only being 1:33 in length. I find that I really enjoy these types of albums of which the songs quickly get to the point, not relying on a whole bunch of sometimes unnecessary filler.
“Ride The Iron Road” was released April 15, 2014, and it did not take long for it to become noticed, most notably by WEFT 90.1 in Champaign, Illinois, for whom in their April 2014 Top 25 List had the album already pegged at #9 and in good company with the likes of The Holmes Brothers “Brotherhood” and Bob Corritore’s “Taboo” releases, not overly far ahead at #1 and #2.
Franc Robert’s love and knowledge of the Blues, in fact over 30 years of it, has certainly set him apart, especially when dealing with the more authentic Traditional style Blues of which you will notice right away on “Ride The Iron Road”.
Not that I needed a break, in any way, from his previous release, but never the less I sure enjoyed this other side to Franc Robert as I am sure that many others will that really enjoy super Blues done simply super.
“Ride The Iron Road” is an album I highly recommend… It is certainly one of the very best in the Solo Performer Category released, so far, in 2014…
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)