Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr As much as some would like to suggest that Chris Robinson has been on some sort of hippy jam session trip since the Black Crowes disbanded, that idea doesn’t quite fit the reality. Sure, there have been some expansive pieces on records such as 2012’s Big Moon Ritual, a record that didn’t have one track under seven minutes in length, but come 2014’s Phosphorescent Harvest he and his compadres had gotten relatively succinct. More than that, each of these records has maintained a specific character. The latest, Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel, suggests an affinity for disco, funk, and the cocaine-fueled jams of Southern California at the end of the 1970s. Robinson hasn’t lost a shred of his vocal style. All the power and slow, slithering inflections are still there. Witness the opening “Narcissus Soaking Wet,” a sweltering seven-minute marriage of late-night glamor and early morning sleaze that channels Stevie Wonder at the height of his glory while retaining CRB’s magnetic DNA. In it, the singer commands someone (You? Me? Us?) to burn down the commune. Maybe that’s his way of letting us know that he’s moving beyond the hippie chic that’s presided over previous records or maybe it’s a reflection of the times, an era that finds us teetering on the second coming of the Me Generation. Whatever it is, it sounds amazing, even apocalyptic, such as on “Forever as the Moon,” a piece cut from the same cloth as the under-appreciated Rolling Stones’ record Goat’s Head Soup. Both that album and this song are built upon the fading embers of the hopeful dreams of peace, love and understanding. Utopia isn’t a mansion, it’s a crumbling shack presided over by a surly hermit with a shotgun intent on keeping what belongs to him. Robinson has always excelled at ballads and the dreamy, slow-building and sometimes unsettling “Some Gardens Green” proves no exception. The lyrics seem to hint at the further crumbling of a once bright and shining dream but instead of encouraging the whole thing to fall down he instead suggests that there’s hope. Maybe, the song seems to suggest, from destruction comes creation and the loss of all we’ve known could just be the beginning of something better than we’ve ever known. Nothing here is grounded in much that’s concrete and sometimes it’s difficult to place the music in any easy slot. “Some Gardens Green” and “Oak Apple Day” touch on the apocalyptic visions evident on Jackson Browne’s For Everyman and Late for the Sky with splashes of mirror ball futurism and space-is-the-place optimism mixed in for good measure. If these tracks and Robinson’s lyrics don’t always give up their secrets easily, that’s the best part. Not since Robert Plant sang about a girl who lived around the gates of Mordor have we been so delightfully puzzled. There are still easy rockers on here, such as “Leave My Guitar Alone” which is flecked with all kinds of Faces-style attitude and swagger and “Ain’t It Hard but Fair,” which combines that sex and swagger with some Studio 54-style sway. The closing “California Hymn” may be the record’s most straightforward moment, the closest Robinson comes to revisiting the past he forged with the Crowes. It’s a gorgeous Gregg Allman-style gospel-cum-blues that lights the darkest corners and gives us four minutes and change filled with enlightenment and a shred of hope. It can’t hurt, right? Not everything works. “Give Us Back Our Eleven Days” is almost three minutes of psychedelic ambiance that will doubtless elevate someone’s mushroom trip but doesn’t offer much for the straight listener. No matter, the rest of the record proves strong enough that nothing can tarnish it. If Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel is a sign of the times to come then it is a most welcome sign indeed.