Today – Billy Roberts and The Rough Riders (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Billy Roberts and his cohorts have always made music which wanders around within some pretty iconic parameters – country and rock ’n’ roll for sure, the occasional punky kick, plenty of singer-songwriter vibes and some slinky blues infusions. All fairly standard stuff but also broad enough sonic territories that there is still plenty of room for experimentation and fresh creativity. The stories of all of those genres I have mentioned are far from over but the best results have always come, not from holding true to their core beliefs but by blurring the lines where they brush up against each other. It is what Billy Roberts has always done so well. It is what he continues to do so well.

Today sees the gang using those same ingredients to create something both wonderfully new yet which has a familiarity of something that you have been listening to forever. It feels, at times, like a long lost Neil Young song, which can only be a good thing. Having proved that they are adept with the punchy, punky alt-country, here they show that they are equally smart when fashioning something more considered. The grooves are loose, Rory Facione is certainly delivering the beat that everything else hangs on but there is a wonderfully unfussy, unhurried feel to the playing, fills acting only as occasional punctuation rather than moments of showboating. Tanner Lindsay is also happy to sit back, using his guitar to add intrigue and texture until it is the right time to fire off some searing, soaring sonics to drive the song home.

Not only a cool track but another side to the band. Here they have swapped some of the power for a whole lot of poise, a touch of the grind for no small helping of grace and lowered the energy slightly replacing such exuberance with elegance.

This is the point where other journalists would bang on about “less is more” but you don’t need it spelt out for you. And if you do, keep playing the track until you get with the program. My work here is done.

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