Reviews

Kenny Roby’s Reservoir


By Brian Rock

Six String Drag frontman, Kenny Roby unplugs and unravels on his latest solo release The Reservoir. Confronting the devastating trifecta of addiction, divorce and the death of his friend, Roby digs deep into the reservoir of his soul to find answers.

With his post-punk Elvis Costello voice, Roby begins his quest for answers on the confessional, “Room 125.” With a single acoustic guitar, he sings, “What do you do when loneliness surrounds you. Holds you in its grip all through the night.” With stark, painfully honest lyrics, he begins the process of evaluating where he is and how he got there. Adding, “The butterflies start eating at your insides. That wasn’t supposed to be what they were for,” he moves nervously into the realization that to break his self-imposed prison bars, he must be the one to change. Finally, he admits that, “Everything leads right up to this ocean, and the notion that this world might not be bad;” if he has the courage to confront his past and change his ways.

But before he deals with his own crises, he pays homage to his producer, who succumbed to depression, in “The Suffering.” Another acoustic meditation, Roby opines, “Tell me why we choose to suffer, and when the daylight dies too soon, we suffer by the light of the moon.” Mourning for his friend, he realizes his own path may be just as destructive.

The first step away from that path is admitting where you are. He does this in the surprisingly melodic, “Only Clown in Town,” and the bluesy, “For The First Time.” Then he confronts his addictions in the Chamber folk rhythms of “All Trains Lead to Cocaine.” Finally, he reflects on his failed marriage in the ballads, “More Than I Do,” and “Old Love;” which hints at his willingness to move forward. He sings, “I won’t be a slave and I won’t be ashamed of my heart – whether it’s old love, new love, true love, no love at all.” He seems ready to release his ego and open his heart.

With this new resolve, he seems ready to embrace hope for the future in the country blues of, “New Strings,” wherein he commits to put “new strings on this old guitar.” In the country ballad, “I’m Gonna Love Again,” he gives himself permission to let go of the past. And in the folk/gospel, “Watchin’ Over Me,” he gives thanks to a higher power that has sustained him through his darkest periods and embraces the faith necessary to move forward.

The cycle of confession, self-analysis, and resolution is intense and emotionally draining, even for the listener. So Roby wisely eases the tension with a half dozen mid to uptempo songs sprinkled throughout.

“Don’t You Know What’s On My Mind,” is a spritely folk song that expresses Roby’s new state of mind. Confused, but optimistic, the lyrics follow the gentle ebb and flow of the rhythm. “Silver Moon” is a three-quarter time country waltz. Even though it revisits the pain of saying goodbye, Roby’s new perspective and the Flying Burrito Brothers melodies give the song an optimistic feel. ‘Vampire Song” adds some electric guitar as Roby finds the humor in his situation by asking, “How does a vampire self-reflect?” ”Hey Angelina,” taps into the joyful rhythms of Hank William’s “Hey Good Lookin’.” And at journey’s end, Roby whistles his way through the toe tapping folk rock song, “History Lesson.” With the joy of a prisoner released from his chains, he sings, “I’ve had to toss what I know in the creek, and let it rise above, then drown the fool in me.” Realizing that learning from the pains of the past turns them into nothing more than history lessons, he is finally free.

Reservoir tackles weighty issues of self-awareness and assessment. But Kenny Roby guides us through the process with compassionate insights and comforting, folk rock rhythms. In the end, it’s a tale of triumph and redemption that’s both well told and well deserved.

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Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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