Robby Krieger is one of the most influential guitarists in Rock-n-Roll history. Famously known as a founding member of the Doors, alongside Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, and John Densmore, they created some of the most powerful music during the late ‘60s era. Krieger, an intricate part of the songwriting with the Doors, would go onto various other projects through the years that further exemplifies his expansive talents. In fact, he would form the Butts Band with Densmore, dabbled in Jazz-fusion, and melded various styles together along the way. Influenced by Classical, Jazz, Blues, and Rock-n-Roll, what Krieger cooks up is wholly his own in a very special way.
Keeping himself busy over the last decade, he has performed live, painted, released a memoir in 2021 called Set the Night on Fire: Living, Dying, and Playing Guitar With the Doors, and now in 2024, returns with a brand new studio album. A follow up to his 2020 album The Ritual Begins at Sundown, it should also be noted that Krieger’s highly recommended 1979 with Red Shift was also re-released in 2019. That in mind, the new album, entitled Robby Krieger & The Soul Savages, marks his second album of the 2020s; after he had not released an album prior to that since 2010’s Singularity.
Considering this, Krieger put together a collection of ten songs that became available as a collection on January 19, 2024 through Provogue Records / Mascot Label Group. A group effort, joining him are regular collaborator Keyboardist Ed Roth, along with Grammy-winning Bassist Kevin “Brandino” Brandon, and accomplished Drummer Franklin Vanderbilt. A very solid, seasoned group of players, together they craft a rather distinctive group of instrumental tracks that will surely interest fans.
Now, if you tuned into 2020’s The Ritual Begins at Sundown, you are aware of its smooth Jazz Rock styling. That said, Robby Krieger & The Soul Savages may follow a similar trajectory in some respects, but is by and large quite different. Rather eclectic, the album utilizes some elements of Blues, Funk, Soul, but explicitly Jazz Fusion. All working together well, there are moments where it is delightfully smooth, but others where it can be a little quirky too. Quite fun, these talented musicians let the songs go in various directions… and it all works.
Recounting the album, songs like “Samosas and Kingfishers” are sure to take you down a psychedelic path, while “A Day In L.A.” invite you into a more traditional Jazz Rock arrangement, and “Never Say Never” dazzles you with some lovely keyboard work. This is while the more eccentric “Shark Skin Suit,” and “Bouncy Betty” keep your interest, before “Killzoni” simply mesmerize you with delicately layered instrumentation.
Overall, if you are a fan of Krieger and understand what direction his music ebbs and flows, you will love this album. It is rich and free-form, yet not too out there where you might lose track of the intent. A delightful instrumental album put together by Robby Krieger & The Soul Savages, Cryptic Rock gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars.