Kenny Roby Releases Self-titled New Album

By Brian Rock

Kenny Roby makes peace with himself on his eponymous seventh solo album, Kenny Roby. After the intense emotional reckoning of his 2020 release, Reservoir, this album finds Roby in a more centered, philosophical place. Still singing about love and loss, he now sings from the vantage point of someone who’s weathered life’s storms and can now read the signs of life and love like an experienced sailor can read the skies.

“New Day” encapsulates Roby’s new outlook musically and lyrically. A bouncing bass line and a steady, muted drumbeat set the tone as he sings, “I don’t know where I’ve been goin’. But I know where I’ve been. I think my poor heart’s a growin’. It will bloom again.” Having conquered his personal demons, Roby steps confidently forward and asserts, “Today is a new day. There can be no other day.” Achieving a Zen like state of awareness, he is now able to live, and enjoy living, in the present moment.

“Leave It Behind” reiterates the sentiment with gently rolling country/folk rhythms as he puts his troubles in the rear-view mirror. Roby plays with Afro-Cuban beats on the sultry country noir of “Married to a Train.” ‘What’s Happenin’ Here” captures the funky folk stylings of Jim Croce. Adding some billowing accordion, Roby brings the Cajun spice to “Ain’t Your Baby No More.” He combines Dixieland and Piedmont blues on, “Working on a New House.” Again, celebrating this new chapter of life, Roby sings, “I used to do work for hire, setting everything on fire… but now I’m working on a new house. It’s much better than the old house.” On each of these songs Roby plays with musical stylings and vocal phrasings that exude joy with each note.

Turning more reflective, Roby explores love and loss on the album’s ballads. “Only Once” captures the feel of Elvis Costello’s work with the Brodsky quartet as he muses, “I wish that I could go back, just kids sneaking in the back; back when we swore true love was something that happened only once.” Displaying the wisdom of someone who has loved and lost, and managed to love again; Roby is able to cherish both his current love and the memory of his former love. “I Call Everybody Buddy” is a country/blues ballad that explores the difference between a friend and true soul mate. “Sailor’s Request” is a metaphor for lovers coming together from seemingly different worlds. “I Don’t Believe It’s Magic” is a tender waltz-time ballad that reflects back on a relationship after the magic is gone. “God Sized Hole” is a heartbreaking meditation on loss so great, no human can repair it.

But these songs of sorrow don’t wallow in the darkness of grief. They are the recollections of someone who has already overcome the darkness and emerged into the light on the other side.  The fact that Kenny Roby waited until his seventh solo album to name one after himself indicates that after a long time searching, he has finally found himself. Although his path is different from anyone else’s, his calm and confident melodies and lyrics can serve to comfort those of us who are still seeking our own way.  |  fb  |  buy

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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