He may be physically based in London, but
Ned Roberts’ spiritual and musical home is clearly late 60s California, Outside My Mind, his second album, a relaxed collection of acoustic melancholic, love songs, the title of the opening track, ‘Drifting Down’, a fair summation of the mellow mood.
Reminiscent at times of James Taylor, Roberts has a warm and wistful vocal that eases across his unfussy melodies, his acoustic playing occasionally augmented, as on For Moira, by harmonica with producer Luther Russell on drums, piano and electric guitar, Jason Hiller on both electric and double bass and Sarabeth Tucek on backing vocals.
Although ‘Angel Station’ picks up the tempo slightly and ‘Song For The Ending’ has a lighter, airier feel that calls Art Garfunkel to mind, there’s no huge variations in mood. The organ and strings backed ‘Lights For The River’ hints at the soulfulness of The Band with ‘Through The Arches’ introducing jazzy folk notes, Eli Pearl adding pedal steel here and there, most evidently on ‘Ribbon of Water’, while there’s more strings to be found on ‘Letter Home’.
He’s been likened to Tim Hardin and Cohen, and while that may be over generous, those who harbor a fondness for the classic Laurel Canyon era will undoubtedly find much to admire.
‘Lights On The River’ – official video: