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A. J. Roach - Revelation


A. J. Roach

New FolkStar Records

Available from Waterbug Records.

A review writtem for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Frank Gutch Jr.

We all have those days when we have three or four songs that you have to hear or the day isn't right and I'm having one right now. Those four songs kick of A.J. Roach's incredibly rootsy-but-not-really Revelation CD and if I don't hear them it's like I spilled coffee in the car. The roots he claims must be my roots as well because when I hear him, I dance and dream and get a little melancholy, depending upon the song.

One of the biggest uppers I've heard in some time is the midtempo, hand-clapping Clinch River Blues, the beat totally infectious and his voice straddling old-timey and country. With fiddle rhythms making my feet stomp and something called a mandochello laying out a modern-old-timey sound, I dance on the inside and, when I've had a bit of caffeine, laugh as well. Roach couldn't have a better opening track.

The core of Devil May Dance is pure sixties/seventies folk/psych. Roach sweetens the voice and rides a melodic chorus of do-do-do's into some of the best psych organ (Charlie Rowan on the C3, ladies and gentlemen! Let's hear it for him!) and I'm back in college listening to David Harris speak at the Free Speech Podium. If you really want to hear what folk/psych is because you haven't quite been able to put a sound to it, this is the best example I've heard in years.

God loves the Wurlitzer and so do I, so it's not a surprise that Fashionistas strikes a chord. A down-and-outer, it cries despair and gives Roach a chance to let loose. That voice with its slight southern accent is much more than another country voice. Much more.

I hear a bit of Pure Prairie League in Sears & Roebuck Suit, but it's probably just me. I have an affinity for that light country rock sound and feel that PPL had at the beginning and Roach nails it here. With a chorus of "I love you more than you love yourself and I wish it wasn't true", Roach says goodbye to a loved one, a son or daughter maybe, and bleeds a little on the inside. Maybe it's someone saying goodbye to him. No matter. It makes its point perfectly and I love the sound.

These aren't the only tracks worth hearing on this CD. It's a solid effort by someone I should have picked up on in 2003 when he released Dogwood Winter which received much critical acclaim upon its release. I have no idea where I was then, but I guarantee you it wasn't where I should have been or I would have been espousing the talents of A.J. Roach for some four or five years by now.

You know what? I'm tired of apologizing to my friends who are so tied to what the world thinks is great musically. I have started my days with these four songs since being handed this (Thank you, A.J.!) and my days are better for it. This CD is damn good—damn good—so forgive me if I walk away when music discussions revolve around the tried and true or the flavor of the moment. I know a winner when I see one and Revelation is one. And those friends? Well, they are still friends of a sort, but if they expect me to listen to tripe about the Beatles or Floyd or whatever is supposed to be the hot thing these days and they don't give me the courtesy of listening to my raves about Roach—well, to be honest, they can kiss my a**. I have a feeling Roach;s music will be around my place a lot longer than they will.

Track List:

  • Clinch River Blues
  • Devil May Dance
  • Fashionistas
  • Sears & Roebuck Suit
  • Chemicals
  • Weathervane
  • Freezing Car
  • Hazel Blue
  • Streets of Omaha
  • Revelation
  • Devil Reprise
All songs composed and copyrighted by A.J. Roach,
published by Route 23 Music Publishing (ASCAP).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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