Personnel: Justin Robinson (vocals, guitar, lap steel guitar, tres, banjo, autoharp, violin, viola, chord organ, upright bass); Josh Stohl (guitar, harpsichord, marimba, drums); Kyra Moore (banjo, violin, background vocals); Sally Mullikin (violin, viola, background vocals).
Photographer: D.L. Anderson.
Anyone expecting the solo debut of Justin Robinson -- founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops -- to sound even remotely like the work of Robinson's former band is bound to be disappointed by Bones for Tinder. About the only thing the singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist's album shares with the recordings he made with the aforementioned band is a preference for acoustic-based arrangements. Robinson was with the Chocolate Drops for their rise from underground acclaim to national renown, replete with a Grammy and some crossover chart action. But where the Chocolate Drops were focused on bringing old-timey folk/bluegrass sounds into the modern era, Robinson seems to be interested in more exclusively contemporary territory on his own album. At times, it almost feels as if Bones for Tinder is the result of some particularly fanciful bar bet, in which Robinson was challenged to make an album fully ensconced in the modernistic singer/songwriter realm, as near to completely devoid of rootsy influences as possible, but employing only folk instruments such as acoustic guitar, banjo, and fiddle. In the end, the melodically adventurous, lyrically evocative tunes that make up Robinson's album feel closer to the art folk efforts of acts like Lost in the Trees and Led to Sea than anything on the American front. A healthy degree of absurdist humor seeps into Robinson's lyrics as well, so that even when the tunes are at their most intense, the album retains a lightness of step that's further reinforced by the freewheeling flow of acoustic riffs. ~ J. Allen