Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Canadian Sam Roberts makes arena rock anthems that can be played huge and bushy, giving us reasons to reach into our pockets for lighters and for twenty more dollars for two more over-priced beers because, what-the-hell we're having a great, great time here with this guy who doesn't clobber us over the head with predictable songs, but ones of considerable texture and craft.
It's rock and roll that is hooky and yet showcases very astute attention paid to not just going to those kills, but instead Roberts packs his punches by being versatile and giving, playing into what seems to be a very diverse love for all forms of song. He sounds all kinds of different from one song to another, delivering with vintage southern swagger, but doing it the way Macca would do it. He sounds like the kind of thumping and cross country roadhouse music of Bruce Springsteen and The Hold Steady, giving off classic barnburners. As a keeper of the backbeat, Roberts lives the hustle. In that hustle and backbeat, he gives himself over to the rock and roll sounds that he goes mushy for and it should be all we need to give him the time of the day and some hard-earned attention.
His latest album, "Lo-Fantasy," takes us to a dreamier place, while still being a place of inner-hyperventilation, of those dark moments that make us feel as if we're going to split. There's a tone of darkness that snakes through these open-field songs of exasperated wonder, of weathered humanity. He celebrates the efforts of people -- the drags and the minor victories -- making it all sound like a warm breeze.