Chris Robinson & the New Earth Mud

This Magnificent Distance

Halfway through ex-Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson’s second solo effort, it becomes evident that the record’s not really going anywhere. Things start promisingly enough, with the punchy, two-fourths time “40 Days” and the spacious “Girl on the Mountain,” which combines lush, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-style guitar noodling with a grandiose, organ-driven chorus (“There’s a girl on the mountain / Waiting there for me”). It’s refreshing at first to hear Robinson’s voice shed the blues-rock box dictated by his old band, for a wider, often jazzier musical setting. But too many cuts suffer from a 1970s soft-rock sameness that eventually bogs down any early momentum. By the album-closing (and downright Crowesy) roots-rocker “Piece of Wind,” it’s Robinson’s old style that seems like a breath of fresh air.