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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

Larry Robbins "The Singles" Album Review

Artist: Larry Robbins

Album: The Singles Release: 2023 Website: Larry Robbins is a Midwest native who worked his way through college as a part-time musician. He performed cover songs at bars and nightclubs before trading in his musical ambitions for love and a stable career.

A few years ago, Larry rekindled his passion for singing and songwriting with the release of Mazelations, a song that conveys the joy in celebrating life’s special moments while offering an all-inclusive wish for dreams that come true. The song’s message inspired Robbins to create a line of greeting cards featuring phrases from the lyrics. Since then, Robbins has written and recorded a handful of singles that are packaged together on this six song collection “The Singles”.

Larry’s music is a diverse mix of styles. There is a pop sensibility that is reminiscent of Jason Mraz, but then has small hints of Roger Waters at times. This six song collection of "singles" is an eclectic blend of Easy Listening, Americana and Adult Contemporary tracks that would be right at home on a 70s AM playlist.

Things We Contemplate is a fantastic example of Larry’s lyrical prowess. It is in this track that I hear Roger Waters-like lyrics with an intimate performance that puts the listener right in the mixing room of the studio with a good set of headphones, in the same way a Pink Floyd album does. A solo acoustic guitar and the vocal at the forefront of the mix is all that is needed with words like “You and I we strategize, the call to bridge the great divide, a willingness to compromise.”

I Did It is a funky and catchy groove driven lyrical journey that starts with a very well played slippery drumbeat. It is the simplicity of the production that allows the listener to focus on the lyrical content again. This one leans much more towards a Jason Mraz happy go lucky pop tune that I find myself wishing was longer. Larry’s lyrics are simply next level. They have a roll that makes me think he has listened to a fair share of the hip hop wordsmiths. To be clear, it's not remotely hip hop in the delivery of the lyrics, but his ability to put unexpected rhymes together that create a vivid picture is exceptional.

Procrastination is a really cool left turn in the production and a standout track. It’s a cross between The Beatles and Steely Dan in vibe, but comfortably sitting in its own space. A clever arrangement peppered with diverse instrumentation and a swingy shuffle beat supported by an acoustic fretless bass made this one my favorite cut on the album. The instrumentation is a mix of both acoustic and electric instruments that come together seamlessly into something that is completely unique and quite wonderful.

I get the sense that Larry Robbins is a lyricist first, finding the music that fits his well crafted words later. In a time when the art of songwriting has been lost to repetitive and obvious hooks this record is proof that there are still artists that are thinking, crafting and shaping songs. Artists that are coming at it through a Billy Joel or Tom Waits mindset of telling stories with an interesting musical backdrop. If that sort of thing grabs your ear, so should this record.

Check out this interview with Larry Robbins a well.

Tell us the brief history of your band or musical career.

Probably your typical musical journey in my early years - learning to read music and study music theory in junior high, while playing clarinet in the school orchestra. In my effort to be the cool kid, I started guitar lessons at age 14 and began playing in a rock cover band at age 16 – rockin’ through high school and college. After college, and still single, I became a “lounge singer" as a solo act - just me, my Ovation Guitar and my trusty drum machine. (Bosa Nova, rock or swing beat options.)

After my saloon singer career (hardest job I ever had), I took that very long hiatus with marriage, family and of course a “real job". Then sporadically, as any free time became available, I gravitated to the challenge and creativity of writing my own original songs. To this day, my whole songwriting creative challenge comes to fruition in the recording process, and if you are talented (or lucky) enough to replicate what you hear in your head, to finally replicate what you hear with your ears, wow - what a thrilling sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. That’s the musical addiction.

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Musically: Without question - The Beatles were a life changer for me.

Non-Musically: My father Dan, a graphic artist - who is credited with inventing the “Paint By Number” concept / fad in the late 1950’s / early 1960’s.

What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?

Cat Stevens‘ “Tea for the Tillerman”

Is there a particular song that has resonated with you for a long time?

'Desperado' by the Eagles. Allows the listener to paint their own mind images of both the character and surroundings.

What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far?

Hearing others sing or perform my original music. Very cool!

Tell me about your favorite performance in your career.

Hoping my next performance will be my favorite, and then the one after that.

What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?

Create music that allows for individual interpretation. Paint a story with your lyrics.

What inspires you to write the music you write?

Lifetime moments; especially personal stories of overcoming life’s obstacles.

What made you want to play the instrument you play?

There’s just something about guitar players!

How are you continuing to grow musically?

I’ll let my listeners answer that question.

If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be?

Greater acceptance and accessibility to the “independent” musical artist on streaming sources.

What are your biggest obstacles as a musician?

Getting my music heard. SO many talented people in this world.

What strengths do you have that you believe make you the musician you are?

Creating music that offers the listener the opportunity to create their own interpretation. “Don’t tell me exactly what to think or feel, let me discover the message on my own.”

If you had to choose one ... live performance or studio work, which do you prefer and why?

Studio work offers additional opportunities in creativity.

Describe your creative process when you write new music.

Honestly, it’s different every time.

How do you prepare for your performances and recording work?

Practice. Then practice some more.

What does your practice routine consist of?

Vocalizing and creating different inflections to keep things interesting.

What do you like most about your new album?

The different vibes – everything from stripped down guitar and voice only - to full blast horns, strings and backing choir.

What artists do you enjoy listening to nowadays?

Different artists for different moods. Everyday offers unlimited genre / artist options.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Fun Fact: I could use more practice in having fun.

Anything Else You Would Like to Include?

As a singer / songwriter – I’m always looking for that next “lifetime moment" that wants to hook up with that “needs to be sung” arrangement!

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