Album Review – The Roys’ The View

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Early in September, brother-sister duo, The Roys, released their fifth studio album titled The View. They are a busy duo, releasing five albums in six years, but Lee and Elaine Roy have marked their territory in the bluegrass genre. The duo won ICM’s (Inspirational Country Music) Artist of the Year award for three consecutive years from 2011-2013, and this 11 track, completely original studio album shows why. At least one of the sibling’s is a credited co-writer on every track alongside country legends and contemporaries including Bill Anderson and Josh Thompson. The View is pure bluegrass with impressive fiddle and mandolin instrumentation, great songwriting, and beautiful vocals from both Lee and Elaine.

Best Songs on The Album

There are several strong tracks on The View. The first standout track is “Those Boots” a song about hardworking men who’ve made impression in jobs where they wear boots. The first verse is about a farmer, the second a military man serving overseas, and the third verse is about a country singer. The chorus ties each of these stories together about how their respective stories are deeper and have put in more work than a simple boot print in the dirt will show. The song immediately following this song is “Heaven Needed Her More.” Co-written with Josh Thompson, Lee Roy sings a song about accepting the passing of an unnamed woman, most likely a mother or grandmother. The point of the song is that there is a grander plan to life, even though it’s tough to say goodbye to this person. The song has simple instrumentation driven by a fiddle and accompanied by an acoustic guitar, but the quality lyrics and story telling show why this duo has an impressive collection of inspirational music hardware. The third song, and arguably the best on the whole record, is “Sometimes.” It’s a heartbreaking song about an older woman who is beginning to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. The verses of this song detail the things that lead to the diagnosis with lines like “It started with a simple missed appointment.” The choruses of the song are memories of this woman “Sometimes she’s running in an open field of clover,” and the chorus ends with the wonderful, yet heartbreaking line “In her mind she’s still there, sometimes.” Depending on how you listen to that line, you can infer that “there” is her mind in the present or her mind is “there” as in her memories. The double meaning infused in that one line is great storytelling, and can allow the listener to feel differently with each listen.

Worst Song on The Album

This album is pretty good. There wasn’t a song that really jumped out at me as “bad” or “awful.” “Black Gold” is the only song that really didn’t do much for me. It’s a song about a man who worked 72 hours a week in a gold mine up until his death. There isn’t much of a chorus to the song, and the verses are essentially just a short biography of the workaholic coal miner. There’s nothing really stand out about the song.

The Rest of The Album

The album kicks off with “No More Lonely” in which Elaine Roy sings about how falling in love has helped her find joy in life again. “Live The Life You Love” is a rather simple, cliché song about the adage “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” The siblings add in a few lines about how you should provide for your family and give thanks to the Lord for what you have. The album’s title track is a small town song the duo wrote with Bill Anderson. Outside of other small town songs in country music, “The View” is more about a short visit back home after being away for an extended period of time. Elaine beautifully sings about the sights of home that she loves. “No More Tears Left to Cry” is about getting through a break up. “Mended Wings” is another inspirational song about God’s grace and getting to heaven after death despite the sins in life. A well-written song that again shows why The Roys have the awards they do from ICM. The album wraps up with “Mandolin Man.” A good song written as a tribute to the one and only Bill Monroe. The chorus is rather repetitive, but overall it’s a good song to close this album out.

Overall Thoughts

This album is solid from start to finish. The Roys and their band have great instrumentation within every song. In fact, “Northern Skies” is a two and half-minute instrumental that is an excellent showcase of those skills. Bluegrass fans should enjoy this album. Even if you’re not a big fan of bluegrass music, I think you’ll be able to find a song or two worth listening to more than once. The Roys just signed with one of Nashville’s top talent agencies, Buddy Lee Attractions. With their skilled musicianship and a solid album to promote here with The View, both parties should stay busy and see continued success with their future shows.

Grade: 9/10

Derek’s Top Ten Country Songs – September 2014

 

There were quite a bit of music releases this month, so for me to narrow this down to ten wasn’t as easy as I thought.  In my opinion, the best song released this month was Keeley Valentino’s “Burned.” I said quite a bit about the song in my review of her EP, here’s a snippet: Perhaps the most impressive part of the whole song is the fact that Keeley hits such a high note in the choruses. Her high-notes combined with the echoing instrumentation create a sort of haunting emptiness that captures the emotions of the song’s characters.” Without a doubt that was the song that stood out to me the most this month. Number two is Lee Ann Womack’s “Same Kind of Different” which was easily her best song on The Way I’m Livin’. I’m not surprised that women hit the top two marks on my top ten. Female country singers have been releasing a number of quality albums over the past few years, and I hope to see that trend continue. The Phillip Fox Band gets a spot at number three with the impressive Country Fried Rock N’ Roll western tune “Nothin’ Worse Than Weak.” Number four is The Roy’s heartbreaking, yet well-written Alzheimer’s song called “Sometimes.” Rounding out the top five, I have my favorite song from Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Townhis duet with Catherine Dunn called “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.”

The Phillip Fox Band appears again at number six with “Ava Lee”, the upbeat love song about a couple living life in the fast lane, and the man debates if he should settle down and have a future with her. Josh Turner’s new single, “Lay Low” comes in at number seven. Lee Ann Womack shows up again at number eight with “Prelude: Fly.” I was captivated by this track during my first listen and it features some great vocal work from Womack. Keeley Valentino makes another appearance on the list with “Love Will Come Around Again” at number nine. It’s a great song about getting over a break up and preparing yourself for when the next person comes to capture your heart. Finally, concluding the top ten is Wade Bowen with “When I Woke Up Today.”  This fun song is about finding joy in life and remaining positive while the trials of a life on the road take form. It’s a great lead off single for his new self-titled album due out late next month.

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Your Daddy’s Boots” by Dustin Lynch – I really wanted this song in my top ten. It’s easily the best song on Where It’s At and possibly Lynch’s best of his young career.
  • “Sick of Me” by Tim McGraw – Another standout track from Sundown Heaven Town. Great song writing and a good, mid-tempo traditional/modern blend of country music.
  • “Writin’ a New Damn Book” by Phillip Fox Band. A great up-beat southern rock song about marking your own path through life.
  • “Heaven Needed Her More” by The Roys. A beautiful song about getting over a death of a loved one and remaining positive through the heartbreak.

October has a ton of albums due out.  Next month’s top ten list might be even harder!