The premise of the Cobalt Prize is to reward songs that ‘creatively utilize blues traditions within the broad contemporary musical landscape’. Son Roberts has taken this to heart for his third album. He certainly has stretched the boundaries with his song structures and his subject matter is very much in the here and now: he’s very concerned about some of the things he sees around him here in Toronto. The opening “Morningstar” is just him on harmonica and vocals singing passionately about the fate of Sharin Morningstar Keenan, the 9-year-old who was murdered in 1983 and whose murderer has still not been found. Son worked with her father at that time. “Down on Vaughan Road” won 2nd place in this year’s Cobalt Prize. The song uses a full electric band, with two of his daughters, an early photo of whom graces the cover, on harmony vocals – he pays homage to troubled women and their resilience. The hard rocking “Bad Hard Town” deals graphically with what he terms the ‘poisonous nature’ of Toronto under our last mayor. This one adds a full horn section to the ensemble. The ‘funky rom-com’ “Not ‘Nuff Night” shows the album isn’t all political. Some gospel/soul is added is here too with “See Me Livin’”,an attractive song about being lost and found. The live-in-the-studio “Keep That Joy Alive” sounds like it’s from the Ken Whiteley songbook – high praise indeed. “Tied Up in Song” is an old-time country tale, a family history in three minutes. The final song, ”The Facts”, offers some hard-hitting advice he’s learned on how to live in the here and now. Brent MacMillan handles the guitar parts along with producing. Other than him, the cast list is different for almost every song and too long to include here. Son Roberts isn’t just a singer/songwriter/harmonica player, he runs a large video production company and has undertaken to supervise the new Sapphire Blues Music Video Award at the Maple Blues Awards this February. His web site is www.sonroberts.ca and more information on the Sapphire Video Award is at www.sapphireaward.ca. 

November 2019 - Guy Belanger
November 2019 - Wide Mouth Mason