"Sacred steel" virtuoso-turned-jam-band guitar deity Robert Randolph makes his big-time studio bow.

"Sacred steel" virtuoso-turned-jam-band guitar deity Robert Randolph makes his big-time studio bow. As ever, Randolph's phenomenal steel chops, bred in the House of God Church and fused with funk and rock energy, are the focal point of his quartet; he is also an impassioned vocalist who lights a fire on the gospel-shaded tracks here. The songwriting does not always rise to the level of the playing by the Family Band, which includes the leader's cousins, bassist Danyel Morgan and drummer Marcus Randolph, and keyboardist John Ginty. But the group's ever-growing fan base will not beef too much about jam-skewed numbers like "Going in the Right Direction," "Good Times," "Why Should I Feel Lonely" or the instrumentals "Squeeze" and "Calypso," all of which will work on the road, where Randolph truly excels.—CM

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