The name of the band might be unfamiliar, but the names of the talent featured within are anything but. Robin Trower, Maxi Priest, and Livingstone Brown might seem like strange bedfellows to combine forces for an album, but a chance meeting at Livingstone Brown’s Brixton studio brought them together and with a shared love of different musical genres being the common ground, one thing led to another, and bada-bing bada-boom, United State Of Mind are born.
Grammy-nominated vocalist Maxi Priest has been performing for decades now and is best known for creating reggae fusion (reggae music with an R&B element), possessing one of the most soulful voices you are as likely to hear today, it’s fair to say that Maxi could sing you a tax bill and you’d thank him. Guitarist Robin Trower found fame with Procol Harum of course, but it’s his incredible body of work as a solo artist that has brought him the most plaudits, and the six-stringer has been known to stop a charging rhino with the gorgeous tones that he coaxes from his trusty Fender Strat. The man in the middle is esteemed producer/mix engineer and musician Livingstone Brown and having worked with both Maxi and Trower in the past, it made sense that all three would combine their talents as United State Of Mind.
Nine-tracks of blissed-out, soulful music that whisks the listener away to a place where everything is alright, alright, alright. In places, it’s Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, or Bobby Womack performing with a bad-ass guitarist alongside them. You could even trick someone into believing that the opening moments of the lush title track feature Paul Rodgers on vocals. The guitar work from Trower is gorgeous, a wonderful exercise in restraint that every budding guitarist should be made to study. His playing is warm and rich, and when the wah-wah starts to cry (‘Are We Just People’), it’s truly sublime. Often dictated by Livingstone Brown’s sweet bass licks (‘On Fire Like Zsa Zsa’ should have bass merchants purring with delight), the pace of the album is so laidback that it glides rather than walks. After a few spins of moments such as the aforementioned ‘Are We Just People’, ‘Walking Wounded’ (just shading it as the standout track of the nine featured), the atmospheric horns on ‘Hands To The Sky’ (which comes complete with a lyrical tip-of-the-hat to Marvin Gaye), the beautiful string arrangements on ‘Bring It All Back To You’, and the throbbing, pulsing feel of ‘Good Day’, the listener should be cured of all that ails them.
A beautiful, harmonious album that is just what the Dr. ordered to help navigate these uncertain waters.
Available now through Manhaton Records.