The true life experience is a telling ritual to maintain. For many, recounting the obstacles overcome in a passing day seems like opening your wounds for all to pick at. Others rejoice in the ability of being able to share personal anecdotes in hopes of self-expression and approval. The experience of life is an always challenging one – filled with an abundant amount of typical ‘ups and downs’ – and for folk singer/songwriter Luke Roberts, life is definitely a kindred affair.
For his debut, Big Bells and Dime Songs, the Brooklyn-based songwriter crafts simple folk songs around stories that encompass an assortment of trials and tribulations. Roberts adorns the songs with chugging guitar, heartfelt and lightly tapped drums and a driving sense of time that affects the album’s overall modest feel. The music is influenced by obvious references like Bob Dylan and The Tallest Man on Earth and, while the comparisons seem fleeting, Roberts is an extension of the modern-day songwriter: emotionally-connected and inspired. Much like the movement of a train through mountainous terrain, through the American roads – like the cover to his debut – Roberts celebrates American folklore with solid results.
Already working on the release of his follow-up, this late 2011 release supports the Americana vibe that Roberts impresses without shadowing the area too much. On the piano-infused “You’ll Walk Away,” Roberts sounds entrenched in the sad blues and how there’s no other direction left to pursue but the opposite one. It afflicts a broken soul but one that must learn how to move on, even if it’s the hard way. Like most Americans, Roberts accepts our stubborn ways in refreshing light. On “Just Do it Blues,” the folk is replaced with a bluesy stomp that finds Roberts advising on secret-filled circumstances, the kind of secrets you ‘take to the grave.’
Coyly, Roberts uses the opportunity on Big Bells and Dime Songs to invigorate musical crowds with more carefully-placed folk music, while we await the release of his sophomore effort. Not even a year later, Roberts has found a sound that is both championed as a steadfast winner and has established a lasting effect. The songs on this debut are, luckily, drenched in enough honest sincerity that the simple guitar that pairs many of Roberts’ songs sounds confidently assured throughout. The drive comes in many forms and, while the true life experience continues to bewilder most of us, Roberts is content starting off his career fresh out the gate with a strong debut.