Artist: Brother Roy
Album: Last Man Standing
Release Date: 11.10.2017
Remarkably well-produced, this indie artist combines gruff crooning vocals with the mentality of a logger who’s easily brought to tears. Brother Roy played rhythm guitar with gypsy guitarist Stephane Wremble, so his musicianship isn’t in question, but this CD is not guitar-heavy, it’s balanced, broad, and rich throughout.
The opening track delivers its punch via tambourine, baritone sax, throbbing piano and background singers who kick at the end in to deliver the final uppercuts to the poor schlump who—inevitably—fell for the “Heartbreaker.” “This man has turned to dust, go get a broom and sweep him up” sings Brother Roy. The following cuts, “Mary” and “Sunshine Lady,” both slow it down, building almost perfectly to their strong finishes, the first with an R&B vibe (as do several other arrangements), the second with that timeless Harry Nillson feel.
It’s hard not to flash back to early Bob Dylan and The Band on songs like “Crazy Bill” or “Let’s Not Worry Any More,” but where Dylan often (successfully) aims for ambiguity, Brother Roy’s songs intend to bring complex stories to life with clarity. “Brother Sam,” for example, brings Jim Croce to mind, and compares favorably to his iconic songs about outsiders like “Bad Boy Leroy Brown” or “You Don’t Mess Around with Bill.”
Comparisons are for reference only: Brother Roy has a style all his own, and if there’s any justice in this world, he’s looking at a bright future as a songwriter and front man. Years from now, some promising newcomer will be told “You remind me of Brother Roy.”