It’s been a while since we last heard from Billy Roberts and his Rough Riders. Throughout 2017-18 they were one pretty much the number one name in country music, releasing the critically acclaimed album ‘Greenbah’ and launching themselves into the spotlight on a wave of impressive singles such as ‘Hillbilly Blues’. While 2019 was sadly quiet, the band have kicked off 2020 in impressive style, digging through their back catalogue to release a seminal compilation-style album, ‘The Southern Sessions’.
An enigmatic band who let their music do the talking, Billy Robert’s and The Rough Rider’s new release is a ten-track collection filled with rustic country charm and heavy, blues-tinged rock. It’s an album that brings together a string of past favourites from their pre- ‘Greenbah’ albums, creating a comprehensive introduction to the band for the uninitiated, as well as offering a new side to each of the singles for fans of old.
Opening with fan-favourite ‘Hillbilly Blues’, the new album cuts through the silence with a textured, country-drawl, offering up a homegrown slice of Americana built from haunting guitars and a distinct brass accent. It’s as strong a track as it ever was, setting the stage perfectly for things to come. Following numbers ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ and ‘My Baby Gone Cold’ spark with the nostalgic feel of the band’s debut album, bringing the two tracks back to basics and infusing them with a rawer, grittier sound. They’re faithful and wonderfully textured renditions that leads into standout anthem, ‘Special’, a deft concoction of steel guitars, rhythmic slides, and poetic allusions to Bob Dylan.
Elsewhere on the album, ‘Kayla’ glistening with a light, reverberating guitars and a soft building piano, while ‘With You’ embodies a true and unapologetic country-rock melody the lingers with a haunting sense of melancholy. Finally, reach its close, ‘The Southern Sessions’ comes to a poignant and wonderfully placed end with ‘I Was Young’, a slow, lingering glimpse into old school Americana.
While the songs might not be new, Billy Roberts and The Rough Riders have managed to bring new life to them, offering up authentic and heartfelt new renditions that are sure to impress. Much like Johnny Lloyd has done in his recent ‘Low Fidelity’ series, the band have been able to capture the essence of each track, showcasing their songwriting credentials in a pure and stylistically rustic way.
You can stream ‘The Southern Sessions’ above via Spotify, or find it today on Apple Music.