Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
I wonder how many floors and spare beds Luke Roberts has slept on in his life, just slipping between what he's been told are fresh sheets and upon a pillow that smells lightly of someone else's hair, or rolled out a trusty sleeping bags that's known all the various floors. It must be a lot. He seems to be a man who's benefitted from the generosity of friends and strangers alike, who can't really do without them. He seems like a man who has happily accepted a meal when he knows he's needed one. He's taken love when it was meant to be - when it was rightfully for him. Perhaps, he's tried to manufacture love, like all of us have at some time in our life, but it seems like that wouldn't much do it for him. The way that it would ring would make him feel hollow. I wonder what kind of roaming he's gotten himself into. The vastness of it all is likely pretty breathtaking - the lives that he's played a part in and those that he's removed himself from, possibly unexpectedly - just because it seemed to be the right time to move along and find somewhere else to lay his head and haunt.
Roberts, who was born in Nashville, has lived in Montana and Brooklyn and recently found himself living back where he started, writes songs that function as pages from a book that he's collected in his head and there's really no telling who's meant to read the book. It doesn't appear to be for his perusal. They must be for someone else to read, someone close to him. They are songs that ache and reveal. They make it known exactly what's coursing through him. They make it known that there are many things that aren't going to get sorted out, not matter how hard anyone tries. There's going to be plenty more sleeping in odd spots, living day-to-day and wondering about the condition of a life that's been built on egg shells and spirits that are just going to have to hold tight, to withstand the elements and the circumstances thrown at them.
It's hard not to crib a piece of the official biography for Roberts' debut album, "Big Bells And Dime Songs," when it reads that his songs are "about running, stumbling, falling, crashing, crying, spitting, fighting, sleeping, dancing, healing, bruising, the butterfly, crawling, creeping, building, flying, fording, gargling, just starting out, homecoming, claiming, calling, bridges, tunnels, planets, and the sun and money." Shit if that isn't just about everything. Roberts is able to wrap so many of those central-most aspects and issues up into his very simple folk songs. They speak out as if they were words coming from a deathbed confessional that's not made it to the deathbed yet. It's premature. It's in anticipation, but it leaves some room for the spitting, fighting, crashing, loving and stumbling to still get reconciled just a little.
Luke Roberts Official Site
Thrill Jockey Records