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Roy Roberts - Strange Love

Ocean Beach Records

Time-40:44

www.royrobertsblues.com

Starting out as a musician at the age of eighteen with forays as a guitarist in bands fronted by Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Eddie Floyd and others, as well as a stint in country music during the disco era, Roy Roberts has the soul and R&B credentials to enhance his brand of easy-going soul music. Although this effort includes only one straight blues song, blues riffs and solos are used at times. The music is the standard set-up of horn-driven tunes infused with Roy’s light, bluesy riffing on guitar. His voice falls into the rough but mellow category, rather than the high-energy approach. The horn and rhythm sections provide the necessary punch to the collection of all original songs.

Classic funky soul is represented in “My Love Bone” with its jingle-jangle clavinet rhythms and horns swooping in and out of groove. It’s reminiscent of the light-hearted songs associated with Rufus Thomas. The smoother side of soul is given its due in “I Truly Love You”. “Hey Baby” travels into soul-blues territory as a catchy shuffle. Roy’s guitar shares solo space with honking sax and grooving organ. “Strange Love” seems to have jumped off of a Robert Cray record, with its slow-driving beat and tempered vocals. “I’m Never Gonna Stop” is a straight-ahead heartfelt pledge of love. The only straight-ahead blues song can be found in “The Next Time”, which starts off with classic Chicago blues guitar and the sturdy horn section. B.B. King’s influence can be heard in the deliberate guitar soloing and the arrangement. “I Can’t Wait” is an R&B infused blues workout with “Chuck Berry-meets the blues” guitar.

Nothing earth-shaking here, but nothing that doesn’t show a certain solid work ethic. The horn arrangements sound so right like they invented themselves. All instruments seem to be in the right place at the right time. There’s a song in there somewhere…Oh heck it’s already been written. Roy comes off as a musical handyman. He doesn’t excel at one thing, but does a lot with craftsman like skills. He has solid abilities as a vocalist, guitar player, songwriter and producer. Lovers of southern soul music will find much to like in this mild-mannered dose of the genre.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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