VOICES Notes and news on New Releases
02 AUG 11 JOHN C. BRUENING
Canadian singer-songwriter Sam Roberts started out as a violin player who switched to guitar and formed a rock band in the 1990s. His group headed for L.A. in search of broader exposure and a record deal, but when neither of those things materialized, they folded in 1998. Roberts went home, kept writing, and restarted his career a few years later - this time as a solo act - with the 2002 release of The Inhuman Condition. Nearly a decade and four albums later, the artist has made the switch from Sam Roberts to the Sam Roberts Band, effective with his/their new release, Collider.
The "Band" part of Sam Roberts Band includes guitarist Dave Nugent, keyboardist/guitarist Eric Fares, bassist James Hall and drummer Josh Trager. Also lending a hand are Ben Massarella on percussion and Stuart Bogie on woodwinds. Producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron And Wine) helps tie it all together.
Collectively, they come out swinging with the multi-layered and powerful opener, "The Last Crusade," a track that simmers at first, then evolves into a brassy funk fest. The guest musicians bring an element of nuance to the otherwise balls-out sound that the band has developed in its live show in recent years. As a result Roberts' melodies and lyrics can take more of the spotlight, most notably in songs like "Twist The Knife" and the poignant "Longitude,' which features Roberts in a duet with Elizabeth Powell (Land Of Talk).
Incidentally, there was nothing random about the album title. "Ideas collide, especially when you're making music," says Roberts. "But when you take things that are seemingly different, you can smash them together and create something new."