Last year, the multi-talented singer/songwriter and producer, Sharon Robinson, toured the world as part of Leonard Cohen's stage band, providing background vocals to the rock and roll hall of famer. In addition to lending her voice to the tour, several songs from the set list featured melodies she crafted.
Robinson is no newcomer to Cohen's creative world, having toured and collaborated with the legendary artist for many years. She has set a number of his lyrics and poems to music in ways that so fit his deep growl of a voice that it seems the two share an artistic brain.
Sharon served as co-writer and producer for Cohen's 2001 album, Ten New Songs, which was praised by critics and fans alike for its soft, contemplative, and ambient feel. For several of the tracks, the style of her arrangements were translated into stage versions of the songs for Cohen's recent world tour, and like the album versions, the live incarnations prominently featured Sharon's smooth vocals. Songs used on the tour were recorded and released on Cohen's critically acclaimed album, Live in London.
Mrs. Robinson has recently remixed a live recording from 2009 and made it available for free download to her fans. The song, "Boogie Street," is from the Ten New Songs album and has a lyric by the ever impressive Cohen, who plays the dual role of poet and songwriter at an unrivaled level of excellence.
Sharon's voice on the remixed track explores the low end of her register, displaying control and emotive power. The new mix puts Sharon's vocal in the spotlight, but still keeps Cohen's unmistakable voice audible, providing a nice blend of sweet alto in the forefront and rumbling bass in the distance.
The Cohen band plays impeccably well on the track, matching Robinson's soulful voice and melody with the perfect, soft, and stylish backing that includes tasteful saxophone licks, a laid- back drum groove, muted electric guitar, and simple electric piano. In Robinson's typical style, the melody and lyrics are at the center of the track, and her vocal delivery induces chills with its beauty and subtleties.
Sharon Robinson is a phenomenal talent that deserves more exposure. This is made particularly evident during the final verse of the song. At this point, the band's accompaniment becomes minimal and Robinson's voice explores the melody in a slower and more free manner, bringing to mind the emotional depth of a haunting, African-American Spiritual.
The brand of natural talent having been refined to such a high form that is displayed in Miss Robinson's musical output can't be found on today's Top 40 radio or on the current reality shows. She is a truly gifted and inspired musician, and her artistic partnership with the great Leonard Cohen only makes her shine brighter.
You can download and listen to Sharon Robinson's new mix of the song "Boogie Street" from the Leonard Cohen 2009 World Tour at the website.