A curiously uneven album from Lee Rogers
Lee Rogers released his full-length first album in 2006 so it’s taken over sixteen years to release his second ‘Gameblood’ which is quite a wait for his fans. There are ten tracks, none of which are longer than just over four minutes so the songs which cover a lot of emotions are pretty concise. Recorded at Sycamore Studios and produced by Gareth Dunlop, Rogers is backed by his regular band on songs that vary from big rocky, power anthems to one or two more gentle ballads but the poppy, rocky tracks are in the majority. Rogers himself describes the album as “A visit to those hard places that most people put to the back of their psyche and build a wall around. Love, lust, life, death, addiction and lots of spirits and ghosts moving around holding it all together. This album is a truer reflection of myself, my stories, where I’ve been and where I hope I am now. It’s music for the grown-up mind, those folk who have seen a bit of life, and can relate to the songs. Though I am hoping some of the kids love the vibe too!”
The problem with the album is it’s a bit uneven. It starts with ‘Everytime’ which has a very poppy/rocky sound and it’s followed by ‘Silent Song’ which has a folky intro and is much gentler than the song before. Then the next track ‘Uneasy Love’ reverts to the big rocky sound before ‘The House’ another gentler tack with a weird intro and double-tracked vocals with lots of odd reverb. The next two songs ‘Life And Lies’ and ‘Haunted’ are big, rocky and anthemic as is the next track ‘Homeward Bound’. That’s followed by a ballad ‘Won’t Find Me’ and the penultimate song is another rocky/poppy production ‘Fool’s Gold’. On the final track, ‘Barefoot In The Basement’, Rogers is joined by fellow Ulsterman Foy Vance.
In the press release that accompanies the release, Roger’s PR company says, “For fans of John Martyn, Keb’ Mo’ and Tom Waites” and whilst there’s some echoes of Martyn, there’s very little if any of the other two although at times there is the sound of fellow countryman, Van Morrison. An additional problem is that, on a few tracks, Rogers’s voice has been double-tracked and treated and it’s hard to hear exactly how he sounds.
This is one of those albums that is on the very cusp of americana as it’s often very rocky with pop overtones but I’m sure Rogers has lots of fans out there who don’t care what genre he’s categorised as – fans of americana might disagree.