By Scott McLennan, The Arts Fuse
Eric Krasno’s influence on modern funk and soul cannot be overstated. He’s brought vision, inspiration, and fierce guitar chops to the bands Soulive and Lettuce. He’s written and produced songs for numerous artists in the orbit of new-school classicism. And Krasno has proven that he is capable of stretching out in different directions; he’s both answered the call to sub as the bass player for Tedeschi Trucks Band when it needed one for a tour, and produced tracks for contemporary hip-hop artists 50 Cent and Talib Kweli.
What Krasno has not done until now is step up as a bona fide band leader.
The new Blood From a Stone nicely covers that base.
On his debut solo record, Krasno sings nine of the album’s 10 tracks, moving to the forefront in a way that we haven’t seen during his 20 years of being one of the dudes in the band or the genius behind the boards.
Blood From A Stone is being released today and Krasno will feature material from the new album when he plays July 14 at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston.
Krasno’s vocal style is similar to his guitar playing in terms of putting a premium on mood and atmosphere. And, as he has displayed through his guitar prowess, Krasno is quite capable of shifting, grooving, moving, and warping those moods and atmospheres across the course of a project.
The album kicks off with “Waiting on Your Love,” which could have fit into a Soulive set of simmering organ-driven jazz instrumental jams, that is until Krasno lets loose with some laid back vocals, here shrouded in thick bass grooves and blasts of keys.
It’s a cool and inviting start, a successful invitation to check the remainder of the 45-minute ride.
Krasno moves into a harder blues sound with “Torture” and follows that with a sleeker R&B number “Jezebel,” which also affirms his guitar-god status with a spectral solo wrapping up the tune.
The one-two punch of “Unconditional Love” and “Please Ya” are ample evidence that Krasno has enough of his own gas in the tank to take on an independent project, one that lets him air out ideas distinctly separate from his work with the other bands.
“Unconditional Love” is a lovely bit of soul-pop with melodic nods to George Harrison’s early solo work and pumped up with a team of harmony singers and layers of keys; don’t worry, it’s all lyrical blossom with no clutter.
“Please Ya” looks back even further to classic ’60s soul. What Krasno lacks in technical abilities as a vocalist he ably compensates for with a convincing emotional delivery. Here, Krasno creates sparks by deftly teasing out the pleading and lamenting in the tune’s lyrics, punctuating the yearning with his adroit guitar work.
Guest appearances are highlighted in the album’s second half. First, guitarist Derek Trucks and Krasno get into a fine tangle on the instrumental “Curse Lifter,” which marries Allman-esque ascending riffs to percolating rhythm tracks.
Powerhouse vocalist Alecia Chakour, who sings on the latest Lettuce album, is featured on “Wicked This way,” powerfully evoking the song’s lush, deep blue tone.
Krasno lightens the mood for the finale, taking a gospel style approach to the swaying groove of “When the Day Comes.”
A worthy addition to an already impressive body of work, Blood From a Stone proves that the chameleonic Krasno, after two decades, continues to develop as an artist.