Terry Robb’s new single “How a Free Man Feels” from his latest album release Confessin’ My Dues is the latest exemplary track in a four decade and fifteen albums plus long career. Robb’s musicianship and passion has earned him the respect of his peers and fulsome praise from every quarter. It has garnered him countless awards as well, but you get the sense such laurels don’t matter much to Robb when hearing “How a Free Man Feels”. What matters for him, instead, is the music and song at hand. “How a Free Man Feels” rates among Robb’s best work and shows that, multiple decades in, this prodigiously talented musician displays no signs of slowing down. He sounds, instead, like he’s entering a new and rewarding peak in his recording career and that should be enough to excite anyone that loves Americana, roots music, blues, and guitar driven songwriting.
The lyrics are structured in traditional three line blues verses and even a cursory listen to the track shows how comfortable Robb is with this style. Many listeners will enjoy how the song is, for the most part, open to interpretation – the obvious inference you can make hearing this track is that it references an incarcerated prisoner but, really, it can be referring to any sort of jail rather than the most obvious kind. He does an exceptional job utilizing the time-tested laments common to songs of this type – blues and country music alike are filled with countless tracks bemoaning a loss of freedom and fantasizing about a day when the chains are cast aside.
His vocal style is never overwrought and, instead, crafted to fit the song’s musical character. Robb has a clear and unfettered voice that time has scarcely touched despite his extensive discography and touring history. His phrasing reflects his extensive study and years logged in service of this musical tradition without ever seeming anything less than natural. It dovetails neatly into his guitar playing to create a seamless musical experience for listeners that’s difficult to forget.
As good as his vocals and lyrics are for the track, Robb’s guitar playing is the primary selling point and has been for his long career. There aren’t many fingerpicking guitarists left. If you ask many hardcore music fans, the only one they will likely be able to name off the top of their heads is former Dire Straits singer/songwriter Mark Knopfler. Robb, however, deserves recognition and mention as well. His technique is superb without ever sounding too thought out and he has the sort of tastefulness one would expect from a veteran musician.
The song’s video has much of the same clean sophistication and straight forward we hear from the track. It incorporates nothing more than Robb standing in front of a microphone and performing with guitar in tow and throws some close ups of his face into the clip for good measure. The bare bones presentation is quite befitting for the track and Robb shows excellent taste taking this approach – it never strikes a false note. The song never does. “How a Free Man Feels” is how this song sounds. It’s the sound of a musical artist working at the peak of his powers and sharing that gift with the world.
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