New Ground finds blind, raspy-voiced former street singer Robert Bradley regrouping after the loss of the Blackwater Surprise's core—founding members and brothers Andrew and Michael Nehra.
New Ground finds blind, raspy-voiced former street singer Robert Bradley regrouping after the loss of the Blackwater Surprise's core—founding members and brothers Andrew and Michael Nehra. A loss that could have proved catastrophic—as the brothers handled bass, guitar, backing vocals, and productions duties—hasn't seemed to inflict all that much damage on the Detroit band, though—especially with producer Jay Joyce (John Hiatt, Patty Griffin) stepping in here, lending a songwriting hand on several of the album's best cuts. While Bradley and company have clearly failed to deliver an album on par with their gritty, self-titled 1996 debut, the spirit is still there. New Ground—like 2000's Time to Discover—contains about five really great songs, including first single "Train," the sweet, swaying soul cut "See Her," the endearing "Feel the Fire," and the hilarious "Willie Lee," a country blues tune on which Bradley pokes fun at his younger brother: "Said that working was too damn hard/ All day long, getting high with his friends." Also, "Lindy," a virtual collage of sounds on which Bradley speaks half of his lyrics, is a successful if minor departure. A patchy must-have for the devoted that may just have a single or two catchy enough to spark interest from the uninitiated.—WO