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Son Roberts - Tell That Story
It seems Son Roberts is another rising star in the blues world. Well at least you are left with that impression when listening to his release Tell That Story.
Co-writing tunes with guitarist John Crosbie and other studio musicians, Son offers solid writing skills and as a vocalist/harmonica player, the man is in a class by himself. His harp playing isn’t over-the-top wild and it works well within the framework of the song.
Kicking off with opening track “90 Years Old,” is a good choice as any. Roberts’ harmonica may be at the forefront but the rest of the band follows him closely as this song with its locomotive rhythm chugs along at a reasonable pace not crossing over into a full-bore rock assault.
Listening to Roberts’ singing you are reminded of vocalist/slide guitar wizard Roy Rogers. It is the perfect marriage to material like “Days With You” that bumps and grinds with good boogie feeling.
And speaking of boogie, how about getting down to “Kowkash Boogie?” It’s a swinging number that smacks of the essence of good house-rocking music.
Son produced this recording in Toronto, Canada. A strange dichotomy. Recording this music in the great white north where its roots lie in the South. But the feelings getting conveyed in a musical sense are strong enough that it doesn’t matter where this was recorded.
This man could use the benefit of blues festival bookings across the country. In a live setting this material would stand on its own merits of captivating audience attention. These studio musicians most likely can hold their own.
Son has the ability to put down a haunting track and does just that in “Come For A Ride.” It’s a Delta track with bubbling percussion, faraway background vocals and Roberts’ wise harp interjections to paint a picture of loneliness at the crossroads.
Son doesn’t stray too much into ballad country. But that’s a small price to pay as the man prefers to keep things moving along at a reasonable pace. Thereby the energy doesn’t lag in “Stephen Lea’s Father” with Roberts turning up the heat and still maintaining the temperature in “Wind Blows In” which would have been the perfect candidate for the musical soundtrack in the Blues Brother movie. The song is that perfect for that Cadillac cruise.
If Son is an unknown commodity to the blues community at large, then it’s time to bring him into the public light. Although this music infuses a rock sensibility, it steers clear from the blues-rock clichés that we have been accustomed to for so long.
Roberts can have the whole show to himself as his harp playing is tasteful and more than an adequate marketing ploy. But he works with a team ethic and makes sure all the players are turned up in the mix so they can all have their share of the spotlight.
Looking at the liner notes inside the CD jacket, Son writes of Tell That Story and what he wanted to accomplish with the material at hand. Using a variety of themes, he wanted to explore all the angles that would fulfill his vision of how the music should be. Tell That Story lives up to its title. What would be more pleasurable is Roberts taking his act on the road so a live audience can get a feel of a music that is soul-stirring. While maybe not on high a level as compared to some others staking their claim on blues turf, Tell That Story is still a solid effort that wins points for carving its own niche.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.