JP's Music Blog
CD Review: New Music Arriving From The Robert Kraft Trio, Gloom Balloon And Underlined Passages
From Texas comes the arrival of the Robert Kraft Trio with their brand new set of studio songs titled "North Bishop Ave." They followed-up last year's vinyl-only release with this new 7-song CD, which features remixes of the singles "Gotta Have You" and "I Want To Show You" from last year's release. The other five songs on this new release have captured the essence of R&B/Soul music as Robert Kraft sings his way into your soul with the warm vocals of "Wonder." They swing on the R&B groove of "Alone With You" and continue to pick up the tempo up with the seventies dance rhythm of "So Beautiful." The album closes with the soulful blues of "Stand (The Ally Song)" as The Robert Kraft Trio bring their "A" game to his latest album.
Hyperbolium: A Critical Element
The Robert Kraft Trio: North Bishop Ave.
Old-school pop-soul from Austin trio
If Robert Kraft wasn’t actually born in Muscle Shoals, he clearly grew up listening to its music. The sweetness of his throwback soul is informed by a troubling childhood whose main solace was the radio. Specifically, KKDA 730 – “Soul 73” – in Grand Prairie, Texas, belting out a mix of soul and R&B, with some gospel, jazz and blues thrown in for good measure. It was the sort of local station that spoke to its community, and in Kraft’s case, provided mentoring that defined the core of his musicality. And despite having played other genres – including alternative rock and an album of standards – the soul music of his youth was always edging its way on stage.
Backed by guitarist (and arranger) JD Pendley and bassist Lindsay Greene, and with guest appearances by drummer Robb Kidd and organist (and producer) David Boyle, the Austin-based Kraft cooks up seven original tunes that would have fit nicely onto KKDA’s playlists. The arrangements are spacious, leaving room for Kraft’s sweet voice and Pendley’s vintage guitar licks. Kraft likens his songs to recapturing “the feeling of a perfect summer day in the park with a girl who might actually like me.” That summer feeling manifests itself in the longing of “I Want to Show You” and “Alone With You,” and blossoms into the colorful metaphors of “So Beautiful.”Kraft drops a romantic placeholder in “You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart,” but makes a more illicit offer in “Gotta Have You.” The latter suggests Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away,” but with the guilt of an agonizing dilemma burned away by amatory fire. Pendley offers several tasty guitar solos, and Greene adds nice flourishes to the rhythm section’s time keeping. The set closes with the funky “Stand (The Ally Song),” building on a Bill Withers-styled groove and rounding the vocal tone with a hint of Sinatra. Kraft is a polished singer, and the trio’s Friday night gig at the Continental has honed them into a swinging soul trio whose debut CD is a treat.
The Morton Report: Bentley's Bandstand
Robert Kraft Trio, North Bishop Avenue. An undeniably great voice doesn't show up that often, especially one that possesses such a rarely-heard inherent beauty, someone whose sound doesn't overwhelm but instead offers a quiet invitation to discover its charm and power. Robert Kraft is that kind of singer. He never shows off with bellowing pipes or sidetracking screams. Instead, the Dallas-bred Texan gathers the wildly-varying influences of what he heard in the Oak Cliff and Deep Ellum neighborhoods of his younger days, and filters them through churning inner feelings to arrive at that golden land of inspiration. The stripped-down instrumentation behind Kraft offers the perfect accompaniment: restrained and directly to the point. It sounds like they turned down the studio lights, maybe lit a candle or two and jumped into the deep end. It doesn't happen that often in the current musical landscape, and almost never works this well. Like all unforgettable releases (even if this one is only seven songs), there is a cover song that meshes so well with everything else it feels like it was chosen with a jeweler's eye. Leon "The Blind Balladeer" Payne's "You've Still Got a Place in My Heart" comes near the end of this collection, and offers a sonic glow so strong it will last forever. Lone star reveries.
The Alternate Root Magazine
THE ROBERT KRAFT TRIO - NORTH BISHOP AVE
The vintage rhythm and blues of The Robert Kraft Trio present their frontman behind the microphone as a smooth crooner. North Bishop Ave showcases The Robert Kraft Trio as Soulmen where the Central Texas band pick up the pace to step and strut a pure Pop love letter to a “Beautiful Girl”, strum jazz-flavored guitar chords along with soulful organ swells to profess “I Want to Show You”, and tenderly promise on crisp guitar notes that “You”ve Still Got a Place in My Heart”. The North Bishop Ave title is a nod to Robert’s brother, Stuart Kraft. When a teenage Robert Kraft bunked in Stuart’s place Dallas, Texas, his older sibling would have the radio tuned to KKDA on the AM dial as Soul 73. Robert Kraft recalls that ‘Deep Ellum was not far away. The whole area around Downtown Dallas…Oak Cliff, Fair Park, Deep Ellum, was a steaming mix of Tejano music, Blues, Honky Tonk, Rhythm and Blues and Soul Music. I guess all that music got under my teenaged skin and has sweated out of me in almost all of the music I’ve made over the years’.
North Bishop Ave plays the same jukebox gems as The Robert Kraft Trio reminisce on the slow Soul of “Wonder”, bounce on the rhythm bubbles of “Gotta Have You”, and hitch up to a solid backbeat for “Stand (Song for Ally)”.
Rock 'n' Roll Truth
Artist: Robert Kraft Trio
Title: North Bishop Ave. (Resistor Record Co.)
You might like if you enjoy: Bill Withers, the James Hunter Six, Robert Cray
Tell me more: Austin-based singer-songwriter Robert Kraft has a smooth and soulful voice able to deliver deeply affecting material that draws comparisons with vocal greats such as Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye. On his new seven-song disc "North Bishop Ave." the Robert Kraft Trio (Kraft, guitarist JD Pendley, bassist Lindsay Greene) join forces with some great guest players and backing vocalists for upbeat material ("So Beautiful" and "I Want to Show You," both featuring some hot guitar work from Pendley), tender ballads ("Gotta Have You," "Alone With You") and a rhythmic cover of the 1950 Leon Payne song "You've Still Got a Place In My Heart." Fans of traditional smooth soul, Motown and R&B will love this album.
- Robert Kinsler
“Robert Kraft makes smart music that's also irresistably danceable. Everything he touches becomes an instant classic.” - Brennen Leigh
ROBERT A. KRAFT
Original Vintage Soul