Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Very nice mixture of blues, country, and rhythm and blues. Rob Craven shows his musical chops on Existential Jukebox. Very nice song arrangements that include mandolin, fiddle, harmonica, banjo, and acoustic guitars. Craven is very good songwriter and an equally accomplished vocalist with just the right amount of rasp in his voice to make it authentic. His songs are a mixture of happy, sad, and about 10 other quantifiable emotions.
The 21st century has not been easy for Rob Craven. In the past 12 years many tragedies have befallen Craven. The Ohio native’s two children died tragically and he went through a divorce. Craven also suffered from a near illness that had him spending six years in hospice. Craven was at an emotional bottom. Craven spoke to his friend and fellow musician, Mike Styer who convinced Craven to record again. Since then, music is a lifeline for Craven and a renewed purpose.
Existential Jukebox is the result of Rob Craven’s renewed interest in songwriting, singing, and recording. The product of Craven’s efforts is an excellent 12 song collection that spans musical genres such as electric blues, acoustic blues, country, reggae, jazz, and some vaudeville. I am partial to the songs that have some really nice harmonica work, Valium Jones (Track 3) and Tired Of Myself (Please Come Back Home – Track 7).
It’s good to hear a positive story about someone overcoming terrible tragedy to do something rewarding and fulfilling. In the process, Rob Craven created an absolutely great album. I always try to support independent artists that make good music that resonates with me. Craven’s album certainly does that. Coupled with Craven’s ability to persevere makes this album even more special. That’s called a double play: great music and an inspirational story.