North Carolina bluesman Roy Roberts is an original, and there’s no other blues singer or guitarist who can equal his blend of minor-key, soul-laced shuffles.
Like the great Otis Rush, much of Roberts’ best blues and ballads are driven by his minor-key songsmithing, which adds a smooth underlying darkness to his themes. He sings in a style that owes a debt more to the Memphis soulmen than to B.B. King and his like. The result is a blues album unlike any other.
Roberts is first and foremost a guitarist, having honed his chops backing soul singer Solomon Burke, Dee Clark, Eddie Floyd, and others. When he struck out on his own, he went solo all the way, releasing a variety of albums on his own label as well as booking and promoting his own shows.
This new album on Memphis’ King Snake doesn’t dilute Roberts’ signature sound. Backing him is a full blues band and a three-man horn section. The result is Roberts’ strongest CD, truly a deeper shade of blue than most.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’99 issue.