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for July 4, 2003

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Flame Stitching
by Sean Carolan

Artist: Sam Roberts
Album: "We Were Born In A Flame"
Label: Universal

Sam Roberts is apparently good at a whole lot of stuff, if you take the time to squint at the liner notes for his new album. While the rest of his touring band makes appearances on his new album, most of what were hearing on the disc is him, nobly multitracking down the path blazed by the Rundgrens of yore. He draws the line at drum playing, so credit is due for knowing when to say "when". Also, among the teensy credits, is the fact that he wrote all the songs. All this information is buried far enough down that it can be said, about his public face anyway, that ego is not a problem.
As for the record itself, Roberts isn't necessarily overly challenging, but that's not to say he's not good - his voice resembles Joe Strummer's in some ways, and Tom Petty's in others, and the music on the record is melodic and catchy. "Brother Down" is the first track to be shopped around to radio, and it's a good fit for Adult Alternative types (it'll segue nicely between Counting Crows and Pete Yorn, for instance.) "Higher Learning" percolates forward rambunctiously with a propelling guitar/bass motif under compelling vocal harmonies, and "Dead End"'s groove is deceptively Beatle-ish (which is to say it's actually kind of Kinks-y.)
Roberts is a capable craftsman, and he's produced a capable first album. It will be interesting, and very likely rewarding, to see how his craft progresses on future efforts.

©2003 Sean Carolan

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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