Joe Robinson is a true force in the pantheon of exceptional artists in modern music, and he has joined an exclusive group of elite performers whose impact continues to shape our unique American musical culture.
On Robinson’s seminal new album, Undertones, the Australian native continues to awe and delight with soulful and utterly brilliant, finely crafted songs on both acoustic and electric guitar, and has come into his own as a lyricist. As The Washington Post recently observed, “It’s hard not to imagine him rivaling the popularity of say, John Mayer in coming years.” There is no doubt that Robinson is at the top of his game, boldly stepping up with mind-bending chord work, solos that literally redefine what can be milked from a guitar, and inspired, melodic singing in his signature tenor voice.
“Creating Undertones was truly a labor of love for me,” Robinson reflects. “I elected to produce and mix this album myself. Having been quite busy as a session musician over the past few years, I felt I knew how to get the musical performances I wanted down on tape, so the whole process felt really natural.”
Robinson has been performing so much of his life that he’s had a lot of time to delve into the emotional process of recording, and takes an unusually philosophical approach to creating music. “Undertones represents the many shades of the human experience. There are songs about love, pain, faith, story songs, satirical moments, and archetypal representations of behavioral truth.”
“I am enamored with the Taoist worldview, as was Bruce Lee, a man I admire a lot. Through this lens, one is exposed to the polarizing elements of our world—the whole world views the beautiful as the beautiful, yet this is only the ugly. The whole world recognizes the good as the good, yet this is only the bad. Thus, something and nothing produce each other. The difficult and the easy complement each other—note and sound harmonize with one another. It seems everything in our world can be deconstructed in this way. Everything has an undertone.”
“The more I play music, the less I need to think about it. The less I need to think about it, the more I feel that I can dedicate myself to experiencing the undertones of harmony, rhythm, melody, rhyme and narrative.”
“I’ve always found it easier to make up songs, rather than learn existing music verbatim. Perhaps this is due to my nature of reasoning, not by analogy, but by first principals. In other words, hearing a song for what it really is, rather than appreciating it for being analogous to something else. I think the most interesting creative individuals through history do this, Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, Aristotle, Dylan, Elon Musk – and I think it is empowering to consider the psychological implications of homologous thinking as songwriters. Social proof is a cognitive bias to which we’ve become evolutionarily adapted, for good reason, however, for creative individuals and innovators, it is important to realize that seeking it has the potential to fundamentally undermine the power of your work.”
– Joe Robinson