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Robert Coyne - Last Lion

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 30 / 9 / 2016



Robert Coyne - Last Lion
Label: Turpentine Records
Format: CD

intro

Combining his skills with those of percussionist Werner Steinhauser, multi-instrumentalist Robert Coyne goes electric with his latest album that includes some stunning covers as well as his own material.


Gladly being old enough to remember the early seventies and the first time I heard Kevin Coyne, a truly unique, underrated artist, means that I’ve already got a soft spot for the son of Kevin before his latest album even starts. But just a few seconds into the album and it mattered not really who Robert Coyne’s father was, ‘Last Lion’ is one of the most diverse, fascinating and rewarding albums to reach these ears in 2016. Robert is no stranger to recording of course. His three albums with drummer Jaki Liebezeit (Can) are his most well known and he has played with a number of other artists. Now along with drummer Werner Steinhauser who has worked with Robert previously the pair have released a new album, ‘Last Lion’. There are nine songs written by Robert and four covers, Dylan’s ‘All the Tired Horses’, Lindsey Buckingham’s ‘Underground’, Kevin Coyne’s ‘Burning Head’ and Chuck Willis’ ‘Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes’. Imagine Dave Edmunds covering the latter and you’re halfway to realising Robert’s take on the song. He adds an edge to ‘Underground’ that was missing from the original and is a perfect example of how to add your own twist to an already known song without losing sight of what attracted you to it in the first place. Dylan’s much discussed ‘All the Tired Horses’ on which Dylan never actually sang is shorn of all the strings that laced the original, and features a beautiful guitar line by Robert as well as being bolstered by a warm keyboard sound. After all these years of hearing female voices singing this song, it’s refreshing to hear Robert sing the two-line lyrics and his guitar solo is a brilliant touch. Beautiful. Interpretations of the year? Without a doubt. Apart from Wendy Coyne’s vocals on ‘New World’, all the vocals and sounds are provided by just Robert and Werner. Playing all guitars, keyboards and bass while leaving the percussion duties to Werner shows what a versatile musician Robert is and what an underrated guitarist in particular he has developed into. The aforementioned ‘New World’ is a perfect example of just how talented Robert is on guitar, with his psychedelic flourishes and the way he weaves the melody in and out all add to the texture and shade of the song,and mention must also be made of his vocals. He is hardly one of the non-singers we are all so fond of, but is still blessed with a distinctive voice that seems to effortlessly express emotion. It’s the perfect vehicle for this batch of songs. The opening song, ‘How Can I Choose’ immediately displays all that makes Robert Coyne so special. The interplay between guitar and keyboards that comprises the first half-minute of the song is so addictive you almost wish that Robert’s honest vocal delivery had been delayed for at least a few more seconds, but at over five minutes there’s time for both Robert’s guitar and his vocals to take centre stage making the song a strong contender as an early highlight on ‘Last Lion’ and a reason to stay with the album. As soon as the second song, ‘Guitar Playing Goon’ it’s obvious that Robert is on to something special with this album. There are two musicians, fairly sparse arrangements, and yet somehow there is a full and accomplished sound and set of songs. It’s impossible to slot this music into any set genre; the title song shows that somewhere in there Robert has a love of good old rock ‘n’ roll. The riff-laden ‘If I Were You’ also displays this before breaking into a prettier pop influenced section, and is absolutely brilliant. The instrumental ‘Woman with a Weasel’, which appears halfway through the album and which is entirely played by Robert is a diversion that also works perfectly before the cover of ‘Underground’, which Robert genuinely makes his own. Both ‘The Grand Scheme’ and ‘Richie Has Put Some Weight On’ show Robert’s more conventional pop leanings and in a perfect world would be afforded daytime radio plays. ‘Last Lion’ is one of those albums that makes an instant impression and it’s one that doesn’t diminish with repeated plays. The final track, ‘No More Material’, leaves the album on a high note although it would appear that Robert wouldn’t agree, he’s run out of songs and, although “it would be nice to end on an up…I seem to have come to a stop and I’ve got no more songs, not even one.” Don’t worry Robert; the nine you came up with coupled with a fine choice of covers has resulted in one of the most satisfying albums of the year.



Track Listing:-
1 How Can I Choose
2 Guitar Playing Goon
3 Last Lion
4 If I Were You
5 New World
6 All The Tired Horses
7 Woman With A Weasel
8 Underground
9 Burning Head
10 Hang Up My Rock & Roll Shoes
11 The Grand Scheme
12 Richie Has Put Some Weight On
13 No More Material



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Interview (2016)
Robert Coyne - Interview
Malcolm Carter talks to singer-songwriter Robert Coyne about his late father Kevin Coyne, his past albums and also 'Last Lion', his latest collection


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