Continuing his latter-day renaissance, Robben Ford widens his palette on Into the Sun. The very title suggests this 2015 album is bright and open, and it is. There's a nice, relaxed groove to this record as Ford plays as much Southern-fried soul and funky jazz as he does blues. All of these sounds intersect at Ford's sweet spot. He's a sly, versatile guitarist who can dip into a variety of styles without seeming like a dilettante, and on Into the Sun, that includes the lazy acoustic opener "Rose of Sharon," which finds its counterpart on "Justified," a backporch blues duet with Keb' Mo'. Other guests are here -- ZZ Ward shines on "Breath of Me," Warren Haynes spars on "High Heels and Throwing Things," Sonny Landreth shows up for "So Long 4 U" -- a sign of Ford's generosity. Then again, this wide array of players fit neatly into Ford's soulful style, which is unified by its love of rhythm & blues -- meaning both the groove and the long, yet unflashy, solos -- and open-hearted vibe. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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