If you were rating a CD based on one song. A.J. Roach would rate about a 15. The lead in cut to this CD Clinch River Blues might be my favourite song on any CD I have heard since Jim Byrne's That River, and that goes way back to 1995.
However, the rest of Revelation doesn't quite match the one song. Now that doesn't mean this isn't a very good CD, but the one song truly does outshine the rest by a country kilometre or three.
Roach is a folk artist out of the U.S., where they have a deep tradition of the genre, and this guy still stands out as one of the best I've heard in a while. He has a voice ideal for his country-folk stylings, which are his natural element hailing from the heart of Virginia.
Roach debuted in 2003 with Dogwood Winter, and effort that inspired well-remembered performer Tom T. Hall to call him a “true poet”. Well that description still fits. Roach has a knack for writing inspired lyrics, the kind which capture the spirit and energy of life around him – think Leonard Cohen with a country soul.
There are some wonderful songs here, including Freezing Car, Hazel Blue, Chemicals, Devil May Dance, Sears & Roebuck Suit, and the CD's title cut. While these songs are certainly strong, they don't quite match the tempo, soul, and sound which comes together in Clinch River Blues, which is so fine it seems like a bit of a let down after you hear it. Had the lead cut been placed later in the album it would probably have helped the other songs achieve a higher level simply because the listener wouldn't immediately be comparing.
That said, this is still a folk/country album worthy of a high recommendation. Check Roach out at www.roachmusic.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 19, 2007 - Yorkton, SK. Canada