CD Review: Robbing Mary “Electric”

Back in the early 2000s, a band called Robbing Mary came into being. The various members had just come out of other bands that had called it a day. Once the Alt-rock band established themselves as a unit, they started making a name for themselves within the Greater Cleveland area.

Robbing Mary would continue as a unit all the while tweaking their sound and style of music. While the band continued evolving, it wasn’t until 2011 that they released their first EP. A few more years later, they released their first album, the 2013 release entitled El Otro Lado. With that release, the band took a big step forward, providing their fans with a release that represented their sound well.

A few more years has gone by at this point and the Cleveland outfit has created yet another album. On the band’s new release, the group consists of Rom Cullers: Guitars, Bass, Vocals; David Drotos: Keyboards, Vocals; Stephen Keefe: Bass, Guitars, Banjo; Dan Mills: Vocals, Rhythm and Jen Vilimonovic: Violin, Vocals and Wil Jones on drums. Since the recording of this album Jones has since been replaced by Scott Mehalko;  Together, the band continues to create Americana music that leans more towards the Rock side of things. The 2015 release from Robbing Mary is entitled Electric.

Electric from Robbing Mary begins with the track “Where Would I Be?” The track has a strong electric/acoustic Rock and Roll sound with just a hint of Country. That Country feel comes from the twang of the guitars on the track and the violin from Jen Vilimonovic. The track even has a slight Country feel to the lyrics of the song. The Alt-Rock track could be perfect for either Top 40 radio as a crossover single or even more perfect for today’s Country music radio formats.

While the previous track contains some Country music influence, the song “Last One” finds Robbing Mary going in a more Folk-Rock direction. The track takes the feel of “Where Would I Be?” and softens the edge of the music. The band also adds some accordion sounds to the mix. Because of that accordion sound, the track comes off as a multi-layered song that could fit Alt-Rock, Country, even Top 40 formats.

With the next track, Robbing Mary takes a lot more Rock and Roll influence and adds it to their sound. The resulting track of “Shadowland” has a very strong, driving feel to the music and even contains some strong guitar solos. The commercial feel of the song comes across as a definite single for the album.

On “What’s In Your Heart,” Robbing Mary creates a duet-like track that features both singer, guitarist Dan Mills and Jen Vilimonovic on vocals and violin. On the song, the two vocalists sing of love between two people. The duet from Mills and Vilimonovic helps to create one of the most beautiful moments on the band’s newest release.

The song “Take Me for a Ride” features a jam-like feel to the music while still containing lightness to the music. The song feels as if it would have been perfect for AM radio back in the seventies. You can easily imagine the song alongside things from someone like Steely Dan or maybe even Poco.

While the previous tracks all featured the vocals of Dan Mills with help from Jen Vilimonovic, the band changes things up on “I Will Stand”. On “I Will Stand,” Vilimonovic takes the lead as vocalist. With this song, the band has created a track that would easily fit alongside any modern-day single on today’s Top 40 radio formats. “I Will Stand” is one of the standout tracks on Robbing Mary’s Electric.

When listening to the organ sound mixed with the guitar at the beginning of “Dressing Down,” Robbing Mary once again changes directions with heir sound. On this track, the band produces a musical feeling that sounds very reminiscent of something from the British band Dire Straits. In fact, the guitar solo at the beginning feels as if Mark Knopfler is the one behind the guitar. While some of the previous tracks have more of an Alt-Country feel to them, “Dressing Down” is one track that is unmistakably Rock and Roll at its core.

Every so often you will find someone who takes a liking to NASCAR and creates a song around the love for the sport. Joining the likes of Cake’s song “The Distance” and Blessid Union of Souls’ song “Rev it Up,” Cleveland’s Robbing Mary creates yet another song dedicated to the sport of NASCAR racing.

NASCAR Driver” from Robbing Mary is another track that contains a strong Rock and Roll. That Rock and Roll feel is mixed with a strong appearance from Jen Vilimonovic on violin. The lyrics of the song tell the story of a man who regrets his previous choices. Not getting behind the wheel of one of the cars on the track now seems to haunt him. This is one song that many can relate to. We all have had other directions that our lives could have headed in.

Coming rather late in the playlist for newest release from Robbing Mary is “Cold Plain Sight”. “Cold Plain Sight” is one of the strongest and, perhaps, the most commercial song on the entire Electric album. The feel of the music brings to mind the commercial Rock style of a band like Counting Crows. The guitar-driven song’s easy pace allows the listener to just sit back, relax and take in the music. The lyrics tell of living through a disaster and then counting the holes left behind. Musically, the members of Robbing Mary feel very much like they are a true musical ensemble on this track. As a result, the song flows effortlessly from beginning to end. “Cold Plain Sight” is one track that really stands out on the album.

On the song of “Daydream,” Robbing Mary produces easily the hardest Rock approach of any song. The band picks up the pace, as well. The quicker pace and higher energy level of the music proves that Robbing Mary can truly rock when they want to.

On their new release, Cleveland’s Robbing Mary draws from many different influences. Because of that, the band’s music changes from one track to the next. Whether it’s the Country influences in “Where Would I Be,” the Folk-Rock flavor of “Last One,” or even the Dire Straits-inspired “Dressing Room,” the band’s album Electric is very eclectic. But that eclectic feeling simply makes the release that much more interesting. Within the album’s 52 minutes, you’ll find many moments that will impress and inspire you.

To hear the song of “Cold Plain Sight” from Robbing Mary, click on the link.

To purchase a copy of Robbing Mary’s Electric, click on the album cover:robbingmary2