Chris Robinson's learned a lot since his days fronting America's best jam-band-that-actually-wrote-great-songs, the Black Crowes: "Your California traffic," he observes in "Sunday Sound," a tune on New Earth Mud, his new solo joint, "I said, well, it just ain't no fun." And from "Katie Dear": "Tuesday morning, hear the traffic outside/New York City, on our East Coast ride." What happened here? When Robinson married movie starlet Kate Hudson in 2000 (she's "Katie Dear") and broke up the group he'd formed with his brother as a reason to get into frat parties without bringing beer and grew a beard and moved to Paris to make a record, he should've had lots to write about: missing his buddies, falling in love, rolling with the Hollywood crowd, calling Goldie Hawn mom. Lions, the studio disc the Crowes released last year, suggested Robinson still had it in him, as it contained the freakiest, most adventurous music the band had made in a decade. Yet New Earth Mud is so stuffed with barely conceived melodies, lazily strummed acoustic guitars and (hopefully) dashed-off lyrics--it's such a drag, as Robinson might say--that you wonder if Mr. Hudson hasn't spent the entirety of the past two years staring out the windows of chauffeured town cars on the way to and from expensive hotel rooms. Jealous again?
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