CD Review: Sharon Robinson — Everybody Knows

[ 0 ] December 18, 2008 |

Sharon Sharon Robinson
Everybody Knows

***1/2

by Al Kaufman

In her over 20 years in the music business, Robinson has penned songs for some of the biggest names; including Diana Ross, Don Henley, and Rufus Wainwright. Her biggest success came when she co-wrote the Patti LaBelle recorded "New Attitude" for Beverly Hills Cop.

But if anyone in the States knows Robinson, they know her through her work with Canadian folk icon and poet — and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — Leonard Cohen. Robinson has worked closely with Cohen over the years, most notably on 2001's Ten New Songs, on which she served as producer and arranger. She also  co-wrote many of the songs with Cohen and served as a back-up singer.

It turns out that the exotic looking Robinson can sing as well as she can do everything else. She has a soulful, sensual voice, that entices the listener. Comparisons to Sade are easy, but Robinson adds more depth to the emotion. Like Cohen, her songs are as literate as they are emotional; they are as intelligent as they are passionate.

Everybody Knows opens with "Invisible Tattoo," a gorgeously poetic and seductive song in which Robinson sings, "There's a delicate rose in bloom/There's a heart with an arrow running through/There's a lasting impression of you/ All over me." The song was picked up by Atlanta's jazz station, WJZZ, 107.5, and quickly became one of their top ten most requested songs. WJZZ is the first commercial station in the US to add Robinson to its playlist. While the CD has been released by Vibrant Records in Europe, Robinson has been forced to self-release the CD over here.

That's too bad, because Americans love this stuff. These are love songs for the educated, while simultaneously accessible to everyone else. Robinson has a strong pop sensibility and adds enough loops, overdubs, and outside musicians to maintain interest.

The ten-song CD (all tracks either written or co-written by Robinson) consists of five new tracks and five tracks that have been recorded by others. The most notable of these is the title track, which she co-wrote with Cohen. The song served as a hit for him as well as for the harder rocking Concrete Blonde. With Robinson, it maintains a slow burn. Much like Jennifer Warnes demonstrated that Cohen's gravelly voice can be substituted for by a prettier one on her Famous Blue Raincoat CD (a CD of Cohen covers), so does Robinson here. Her beautiful alto is just as soulful as Cohen's whispers.

Everbody Knows peters out a bit near the end. While the CD maintains a certain simmer throughout, it would improve if it came to a boil once in a while, or even if Robinson showed just a hint of the person who helped write "New Attitude," but for fans of Leonard Cohen and Sade, this is required listening.

Category: CD Reviews

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