Robert Randolph took a step outside when it was time to record his new album, Brighter Days, choosing to work with producer Dave Cobb, best known for his work with new country stars like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlile, and Jason Isbell. Looking beyond anyone’s expectations or his own preconceptions helped Randolph circle back to where it all began for him: in church.
The first three songs of Brighter Days are a full dive back to Randolph’s gospel roots, starting with lead track “Baptize Me,” a joyous romp that makes a direct connection between religious and musical ecstasy and salvation. “We wrote ‘Baptize Me’ the first day in the studio,” says Randolph. “It’s really a love story, about an all-round love: for each other, for our audience, for our church background, for the music we love and for our fans. All of these songs harken back to how we started….”
Randolph grew up playing sacred steel music — gospel played on pedal steel guitar — in the House of God church in Orange, New Jersey, and began taking his joyous, gospel-infused music out to clubs, backed by family members who shared not only backgrounds, but blood. He’s since appeared on stage at major festivals and venues the world over, and today counts among his diehard fans Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Derek Trucks. Randolph last performed Waterfront in 2018.