Roy Roberts
Every Shade of Blue
Kingsnake 042
Serious fans of blues and soul will find much to like about Roy Roberts, a North Carolina-based artist. He's a total package type of guy who sings well, plays hot guitar, works hand-in-hand with his band (as opposed to merely fronting it), offers a well-varied menu of quality compositions (his own), and has considerable pedigree. (He's played guitar behind such notables Solomon Burke and has a long history of grass-roots recordings of R&B, gospel and C&W.)

Three of the tunes ("Gypsy Woman," "Have You Seen My Baby?" and "Hard to Find a Woman") are straight-up, rakish blues pushed by a brassy horn section excellently charted by talented trumpeter Rusty Smith. Roberts sings in a low, buttery voice that's like a mix of Isaac Hayes and Albert King. His guitar work is a bit like Albert's too, though less tense. His solos are passionate but concise, if not downright short (kind of refreshing, that).

Two of the songs ("Sweet As Honey" and "Why Don't You Come Back Home?") are slow, Southern-style blues laments, and both benefit from Smith's tactful horn arrangements. "What Should I Do?" should probably be called a ballad, but that word seems too weenie for this heartwrecked opus; it might not be a I-IV-V pattern, but it's for damn sure a blues!

Other cuts are in a R&B/soul vein. "A Woman Needs Love" is a hypnotizer, with a simple but exciting rhythm of the sort best danced late in the evening. "Let's Wrap Up" is nice, '60s-style soul with Tabasco-voiced backup singer Priscilla Price joining Roberts at the mike. "You And Me Together" is in that subgenre of R&B personified by Barry White, which lends itself readily to mockery but gets justice from the song's well-knit arrangement and Robert's gilt, sonorous voice.

It may not indeed be "every" shade of blue, but this one's got enough color to make it worthwhile.

-- Tim Schuller

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.