The Field and the Sky
CD on Leg Room Records
No stranger around these parts, Roger Knotts previous albums have impressed us with his take on the pure country sound appealing to a much wider audience than the usual country crowd.
The Field and the Sky is Knotts seventh album and, while it would appear from the opening songs on his latest collection that not much has changed for Knott musically, he still somehow manages to keep his country music sounding fresh.
Produced again by Thomm Jutz in Tennessee which obviously lends a degree of authenticity to Knotts work, The Field and the Sky is another dozen original songs, this time Knotts lyrics are accompanied by music composed by Michael John Groome, but the songs are still very much a continuation of the albums we are familiar with where Knott wrote both lyrics and music.
The title track, which appears as the third song on this album, is the first indication that Knott is, in fact, British. While still steeped in the sounds of mandolin and dobro and while never losing, for a second, Knotts love of the Nashville sound, its lyrically where Knott reveals his roots and also where Knott shows that hes so much more than the usual run of the mill country artist. Opening the album with the typical Knott banjo led slice of pure country which is Driving You Away is no big surprise. Its business as usual, unrequited love being the subject of the song and with Knotts easy on the ear vocals immediately accessible its like hes never been away.
Following up with I Dont Wanna Wake Up, has you thinking, not for the first time with a Roger Knott album, that were in for a whole albums worth of love and longing songs performed by a tight band and sung perfectly; nothing wrong with that but are we going to feel as enthusiastic by the end of the album as we were at the beginning? So slotting The Field and the Sky in as the third song is perfect timing, the change in tempo, the way Knotts vocals take on a tougher tone and the brilliant way the song ends vocally shake you up a little and renew your interest.
If that song dispelled any thoughts that Knott was going to tread water with his latest album, then the following song, Southern Bluesmen in Chicago, is the confirmation. Knotts vocals are maybe not the first that would come to mind to sing what actually turns out to be an authentic sounding slice of country/blues, albeit massively helped out by producer Thomm Jutzs searing guitar work and Gary Smiths outstanding skill on the piano, but he handles it remarkably well. Its a side to Knott that has been explored a little on previous albums and is proof that Knott should tackle more of this type of music. The groove created by the band on this track should be exploited more on future albums.
Knott then returns to his country-infused roots on the following song, Sweet Obsession, which is another unrequited love song with Knotts vocals sounding sweeter than ever. By injecting the words with yearning emotion Knott, however, once again produces country which will also appeal to those outside of usual country circles.
There are also songs on The Field and the Sky where, despite such embellishments like slide guitar, Knott leaves his country leanings behind and delivers good, solid pop songs. The Open Secret of Our Love, while still lyrically following the theme of most of the other songs on the album, at least opens up yet another side to Knott. It shows that Knott can step outside of the country and occasional country/blues that we all know hes a master at and produce beautiful adult pop songs. Its a genre to which his vocals are ideally suited.
When Sorrow Lays You Low is another track where Knott displays the same skill and almost has you wishing he would record a whole album of such songs where he leaves his country roots at the door of the studio for just one album at least. In fact the last three songs on The Field and the Sky display Knott in this setting and are proof that shorn of the country trappings Knott produces thoughtful pop music that he should be encouraged to explore further. By closing the album with Faith and Proof Knott surely knows what direction to take on his next album.
As usual Roger Knott has produced an album, which starts as a classy yet not exceptional country collection, but which by the end will have won over fans of other genres too. With that trio of closing songs The Field and the Sky is Knotts strongest set to date,
Malcolm Carter http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/CatPages/CatItem.aspx?id=79436
Album: THE FIELD AND THE SKY
Roger Knott must surely be regarded as Britains leading country singer/songwriter. I described his 2011 I Got My Work Cut Out as superbly crafted and beautifully performed and that goes double for the new release The Field And The Sky (Leg Room). The album contains 12 new songs recorded in Nashville using experienced and exciting pickers, musicians normally associated with Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Dierks Bentley, Ricky Skaggs, etc. If you have yet to be convinced that British country music is the equal of the USA product then look no further than The Field And The Sky.www.legroomrecords.com Pete Smith The Advertiser (UK) 1 June 2012
* * *
The Field And The Sky
LEG ROOM www.rogerknott.com
You might not be able to tell from his music, which is pure Americana, but singer-songwriter Roger Knott is London-born. Not so surprising then to learn that his latest opus was cut in Nashville and follows on strongly from Knott's 2011, critically acclaimed I Got My Work Cut Out.
Wisely retaining guitarist Thomm Jutz in the producer's chair, Knott astutely copper-plates the underlying authenticity of his sound by gathering around him a group of mightily respected Nashville players: drummer Steve Brewster (Faith Hill), keyboardist Gary Smith (Dolly Parton), bass man Mark Fain (ex-Ricky Skaggs), multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses (Kentucky Thunder) and backing singer J T Brown (ex-Mary Chapin Carpenter).
Collaborating with fellow Brit, Michael John 'Micky' Groome, on the writing - Knott pens the words while Groome writes the music, the pair tap deep into the Nashville psyche to create a robust collection of songs strong on melody, intelligent lyrics and catchy choruses. Highlights include the poignant title track, the appropriately bluesy 'Southern Bluesmen in Chicago' and the harmony-rich 'Sweet Obsession'.
Knott's vocals are a tad stretched at times but this never becomes an issue thanks to the clever arrangements and the polished ensemble playing, which keep this show firmly on the road from start to finish.
Colin Hall. R2 Rock'n'Reel, July/August 2012.
Album: THE FIELD AND THE SKY
Label: Leg room
When a new album from Roger
Knott drops through the office letterbox, it's like welcoming home an old
friend, this is the 5th album we've covered and his seventh overall. Roger's
weapon of choice is Americana with a heavy country bent. Whilst he's as English
as cottage pie, his albums definitely have that apple pie feel to them. Knott
is quite a songwriter from the love-life-journeys school to create albums
that have a real down home feel. "The Field And The Sky" reveals he's still
one sharp writer/performer who gives a lot of himself in his performances
and has a country heart. Grand. -
Roger Knott I GOT MY WORK CUT OUT Leg Room Records ****
London-born Roger Knott has
released a steady stream of quality albums over the past few years and this,
his sixth, is another excellent collection of self-penned songs. Recorded
mainly in Nashville and produced by the multi-skilled Thomm Jutz (who also
plays various guitars) this falls loosely into the Americana style, but Roger
doesnt attempt that awful mid-Atlantic country drawl so many UK-based
country singers do, but gives the songs an Englishness that works so much
better. He has the ability to write memorable songs with catchy melodies
and well-thought out lyrics. Paycheck Friday which bookends the album
with the second version being an unnecessary radio mix deserves
to be a hitif not for Roger, how about someone like Alan Jackson?
Every Bringdown has a gentle country swing with Britt Savage adding
great harmony vocals. Golden Child is a biting song about those rich
kids handed everything on a platethey are the ones to blame for the
worlds current economic woes, but they just cant see it. Yes,
Knott dresses his songs in polished arrangements, but listen closely and
he has a lot to say in songs with quite deep meanings.
- Maverick Magazine
I Got My Work Cut Out
Prolific since his first solo album in 2004, this is Roger Knott's fifth album and the best yet at showing his virtuosity across the acoustic and electric country scene. He opens with a stomper, 'Paycheck Friday', and then alternates mood and pace to suit the assertive ethos of the album. It's a more wholesome array of tunes and melodies than his previous Nashville-styled efforts. Thus, the songs are less structured or familiar sounding, and take a couple of listens in order to engage. This is no bad thing.
'If Love Can Be Saved' offers a poetical and romantic approach that endears on repeat. The title track appears uncommonly heavy to begin with then proves to grow with familiarity. Knott even offers an eco-comment with 'What We Do To Survive', and opts for a linear folk stream rather than something anthemic.
Knott penned all thirteen original songs with musical collaboration on about half the numbers by Leg Room's journeyman bass player, Micky Groome. The album is produced by another Nashville alumnus, Thomm Jutz, who also contributes guitars throughout the album. Knott's vocal is unique and will attract some and annoy others; no half measures.
Gareth Hayes - R2-Rock'n'Reel Magazine, March-April 2011
Roger Knott: "I Got My Work Cut Out" CD
"Prolific singer-songwriter, Roger Knott, returns with another slice of his country rock/americana driven songs, "I Got My Work Cut Out". Knott is an observational songwriter often taking inspiration for his songs fom the mundane and giving them a place, real life songs about events that can happen to anyone and mixes them up with events that happen to a lot of people at the same time such as war and oppression. For me the stand out track is "Golden Child", a top we're-all-in-this-together, well, except-the-rich-and powerful, type track, expressed for so many of us". - Fatea Magazine http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/releasesda.html
Roger Knott: "I Got My Work Cut Out" CD
Seldom these days do I get the opportunity to review an album by a British artist so when I received "I Got My Work Cut Out" by Roger Knott I was more than pleased. Not just because the work is by a UK singer/writer but it is truly excellent! Knott's early career involved bands and duos performing in a variety of styles till he discovered country. His first album, "Find Your Wings", released in 2004, was recorded in London and Spain and produced by Dolly Parton's former steelie Steve Honest. The original content in the album caught the ear of Nanci Griffith's co-producer, the drummer Pat McInerney who invited Roger to Nashville to cut more of his songs. The young Londoner took up the offer with the resulting "Dust And Promises" featuring 11 Knott originals. The third album, "Step Out Into The Sun", also recorded in Nashville, had the highly regarded Clive Gregson in the producer's chair. The fourth album, "Been Down That Road" (2008), was recorded in Nashville. The success of these four albums put Knott's name in the foreground with successful live appearances and live radio performances on the American station WAPS-FM on two occasions. For his fifth album Roger chose London for the recordings with Steve Honest once again producing.
The sixth and most recent album, "I Got My Work Cut Out" (Leg Room), was once again recorded in Nashville with Thomm Jutz producing. The 13 Knott originals are superbly crafted and beautifully performed by Roger in a programme that blends tender ballads ("If Love Can Be Saved", "Make Some Sense", "The Greatest Celebration") with country rockers ("Paycheck Friday", "I Got My Work Cut Out", "Younger Days") with a little western swing ("Every Bringdown"). The musicians provide great backdrops to Knott's stories of life and I must make especial mention of Shad Cobb's atmospheric fiddling and Barry Walsh's piano.
Posted by Pete Smith on June 01, 2011 at 12:47:42 "The Advertiser" (UK) - 13 May 2011 http://www.eboards4all.com/206687/messages/149316.html
Roger Knott: "Big News From A Small Town" CD
"The lyrics by this Hertfordshire-based singer-songwriter
are stellar...it cant be denied that there is some seriously strong
writing at work"
- Maverick Magazine, November 2010
For his fifth solo album
Hertfordshire-based English singer songwriter Roger Knott has abandoned the
Nashville studios he inhabited for his last couple of albums and recorded
Big News from a Small Town in London. The sound of Nashville
loomed large over those earlier albums and that pure country sound dominated
the songs. It appears that a change of country and studio has given Knotts
music a new lease of life.
The thirteen songs on Big News from a Small Town are all originals but are not steeped in that old country sound that we have come to expect from Knott. If this change in style is totally down to the change in his surroundings when recording the songs or if Knott deliberately set out to leave some of his country leanings on this album is uncertain, but Knott has made the right decision.
Theres a more mature pop sound to this latest batch of songs ; Knott has made an album of mainly pop/rock songs this time as opposed to that pure country sound that dominated those earlier albums.
There are very few songs during these 45 minutes that you wouldnt want to hear again. In fact there is just one song that is not up to Knotts usual high standard, Baby Were An Item is just too annoyingly catchy to warrant too many plays. Its just too sweet and the tune just grates very quickly. Despite that it must be said that Knotts and the backing vocals on that track are superb. But where Knott really shines is on songs which surely must be autobiographical and which, thankfully, make up the bulk of this album.
The album kicks off with Watermelon Moon, which is a jaunty romp with slight country touches where Knott, not for the last time on this album, looks back on his childhood and place where he grew up. Its a catchy piece of mature pop and Knott, who has a distinctive voice that you cant help but warm to turns in a good vocal performance.
Young Eyes follows and again those country touches that were to the fore on Knotts previous albums are less obvious here despite the strings being the only concession to Nashville on this album. Lyrically its a song about longing for the lost innocence of youth and Knott easily conjures up images of those ice-cream trucks. Its this early into the album that you realise that Knott is not only travelling on a different road musically but by writing lyrics that are personal and looking back that hes taken a completely different route this time.
Theres a distinct English feel to these songs especially on songs like Tourist Town which surprisingly is the song that harks back most to the country sound weve come to expect from Knott. Comparing the end of a relationship with the closing of a tourist town for the season gives Knott the chance to prove that lyrically he has come up with some of his best lines ever, You made the winter winds blow in the chill of your goodbye is a prime example.
A Fine Hobby is more than likely a true tale of how Knott has made it in music despite being told its no way to make a living. Its amusing and touching at the same time. But the following song, Ghost from Your Past is probably the best song that Knott has yet recorded. A former lover returns to try to destroy a relationship, We made a vow we would never be untrue so tell me what does never mean to you? sings Knott before launching into a chorus that is so appealing youll be singing it all day. It all ends in tears of course, but its by far the strongest song in this set.
Knott has grown with each album he has released so far. Big News from a Small Town, is by far the strongest collection of songs we heard from him and the change of studio and sound coupled with a slight theme running through some of the songs makes the whole album hang together nicely.
So its not the album I was expecting from Knott; it was a surprise to hear less of his country influences but its worked well. One cant help but wonder if the closing song, Gypsy Rambler which shows a folkier Knott, is a taster for the sound this talented songwriter will explore further on his next album.
Reviewed By: Malcolm Carter http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Review.aspx?id=7524
Roger Knott: "Big News From A Small Town"
Home Counties Country boy Roger Knott has been gathering momentum with a series of low-key releases since 2004, including catching the attention of US country and folk radio of late. This fifth solo album finds him in solid form through thirteen crafted songs, taking in as many of Americana rocks classic stylistic facets as can logistically be packed into three quarters of an hour.
Its clear that thoughtful and literate Country-hued rock is Knotts weapon of choice, so its heartening then that his own quirky voice and honest accent are added to the artillery, instilling these songs with some attractive integrity and real personality.
London production maestro Steve Honest has presented these personal songs faultlessly, giving them lots of space and punch where needed, and even adds wonderful pedal steel himself to some of the albums most lovelorn, and complexly romantic moments.
Tourist Towns melancholy and evocative end-of-the-pier Englishness has an affinity to Darren Haymans superbly introspective and nostalgic Great British Holidays material. In a similar vein Frisbee Street is packed with loss and reminiscence. Its talk of Post Offices on the corner, and its sadness that there are More antique shops that one street should allow, the old school is apartments now carries with it a genuine sense of curious loss.
Elsewhere, A Fine Hobby could have been penned for The Man In Black, being so deeply rooted in his signature foot-tapping country style. A light-hearted tale of making a life in music despite detractors claiming it is no way to make a living. The exuberant One Shot Deal seems to be something approximating The Jayhawks going on holiday with latter-day XTC and cheering them up a bit. Changing things again, Ghosts From Your Past, and No Electricity recall, and not for the first time, Peter Blegvads clean poetic rock. Being something of a limited vocalist in the grand scheme of things, Knott also shares many of Blegvads vocal tones and qualities.
Knott has thrown pretty much every variant of country-rock at this collection. It is never less than heartfelt, but instead of a summation of clumsy stylistic imbalance, it gives these 13 songs a subtle variety, honesty and appeal. Knott is a greatly talented songwriter, and Big News... is never less than an enjoyable, pleasingly English, bulletin.
Ian Fildes Americana-UK.com Reviewers Rating: 7 out of 10
Roger Knott: "Big News From A Small
Date published: 3rd Sep 2010
Skiddle rating: 3/5
Roger Knott is a British singer-songwriter whose influences are decidedly American. Although Big News from a Small Town features a traditional British telephone box on its front cover, his points are reference are far more likely to be Cadillacs and Stetsons than rain and the royal family. Knotts music is also very American, with a specific focus on Nashville style country and western... Compared to Knotts previous work, this is a more upbeat and less acoustic record. This is a definite strength... Knotts lyrics are another strength; he can certainly turn a phrase and deliver a snappy line... the hits outnumber the misses on Big News from a Small Town. A Fine Hobby, which describes Knotts musical awakening and the criticism he has received for pursuing a career in music, is a particular highlight. The more wistful Ghost From Your Past is also among the stronger tracks, as is the celebratory Baby, Were an Item... Knotts enthusiasm for his chosen style is evident throughout, and the result is a polished collection of songs that work well in their own way.
Reviewed by: Alan Ashton-Smith, Skiddle.com
Roger Knott: "Been Down That Road" CD
"Give yourself over to the songs it makes perfect sense" - R2 Rock'n'Reel Magazine
"Fantastic songwriting ability" - Maverick Magazine
"A superb piece of work" -
"Thoroughly enjoyable and worth investigating this artist." - Clown Magazine FULL REVIEW
"The best pure country album Ive heard all year." - pennyblackmusic.co.uk FULL REVIEW
"Check him out today because you're in for a real treat." - Triplestrand productions FULL REVIEW
"Another excellent offering ... It's great stuff that he's been producing out in Nashville!" - Allan Watkiss, presenter, UKCountryRadio
"It's SUCH a good album ... He's got some great pickers on there" - Lee Williams, presenter, CMRNashville Radio
"A very great CD with excellent songs.. all tracks are fantastic". - Etienne "Steve" Berthels , DJ, Radio Terre Franche
"A very distinctive, unique vocal style" - Stuart Cameron, UpCountry Magazine
"A jaunty, observational journey into little America" - FATEA Magazine FULL REVIEW
"Roger Knott has produced a smooth Americana/Country album, Been Down That Road that was recorded in Nashville Tennessee. The music palette has acoustic guitars, accordion, and a fiddler to make those smooth notes while delivering great standards within the confines of the Americana/Country sound, Been Down That Road starts the ball rolling and the next song shows how humour can be used in a clever way without compromising the integrity of the music, Crazy Rules the waitress wouldnt serve me any alcohol. Cos I left my ID back at the hotel. The songs are on average three and half minutes long so listening to unfamiliar music you can easily listen to the end of each song and feel refreshed from the experience. Thoroughly enjoyable and worth investigating this artist."
Reviewed By: Rob Clarke - Clown Magazine http://www.clownmagazine.co.uk/musicextra.html
"This fourth album from country singer Knott follows the same pattern as his previous release, Step Out Into The Sun, in as much as it was again recorded in Nashville, which is appropriate, but this latest collection is without the production talents of Clive Gregson; this time Knott has opted for Thomm Jutz to take the producers chair and he has made a pretty good job of following in Gregsons footsteps.
I felt that Step Out Into The Sun was very much a game of two halves. It appeared that Knott felt more at home with the more up-tempo songs he opened that album with but it was the slower songs where his vocals really shone and there was many a time when I programmed the CD player to skip some of the faster songs in favour of songs such as the slower The Sound Of Your Name.
On this collection of twelve originals either Ive become more accustomed to Knotts up-tempo country tunes or he has slowed down the tempo considerably overall as, like even on the opener, Been Down That Road, the songs feel that they have more depth, more substance and while that title song is certainly in Knotts sing-a-long country style which predominated his last album I have the feeling that these songs are going to be played a lot more than those up-tempo songs on Step Out Into The Sun. Its either Knotts sweet melodies working their way into my head or, and I believe this is more accurate, that on this album he has toughened up his sound a little and it is all the better for that. Maybe putting Jutz in the producers chair was an inspired move. Jutz, of course, played guitars on the last album and takes guitar duties here too so overall the sound is similar but there is definitely something about these twelve songs that are going to make them appeal to more than the die-hard country scene than his previous album did.
One of Knotts greatest assets has been his vocals, as soon as you hear him sing its undeniably Knott. Making comparisons is fruitless and to find someone with an original voice in the type of country music Knott makes these days is rare. Coupled with that, Knott has lost none of his talent since the making of Step Out Into The Sun of creating long-lasting melodies of the type that within no time at all you want to sing along to. As with his last collection of songs Knotts songs have the ability to bring a little sunshine into even the darkest of days; the feet start tapping without you realising, youre singing along before you know it and Knott has lifted those clouds that were darkening your day.
The great thing about Knotts work is that it makes no demands on the listener, his melodies wrap around you, theres this familiar, cosy feeling to the tunes, like youve heard them before somewhere but you know you havent and his warm vocals are well suited to this type of country music.
Been Down That Road contains some of the best songs Knott has yet put down on tape, When Love Comes Around, Sudden Rain and Autograph will, some time in the future surely grace a Best Of Roger Knott album.
As with his last album Knott has some star names helping out ; besides Thomm Jutz, Pat McInerney (who has worked with Nanci Griffith) is back on drums and LeAnn Etheridge makes a welcome return on backing vocals ; all this shows in these songs and the fact that they were recorded in Nashville only makes the sound more authentic.
When reviewing Step Out Into The Sun I said that Knotts music would not appeal to a wide audience, but Im going to have to retract that with this latest collection, although his songs are firmly rooted in that good old country soil because of his vocals and melodies this album will be interesting to anyone who enjoys pop / folk music too. I also said in that review that Knott wasnt going to change the world with his music. Maybe not, but with Been Down That Road he will take you to another world for just over 40 minutes.
Been Down That Road is the best pure country album Ive heard all year."
- Reviewed By: Malcolm Carter - www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk
down That Road" (Leg Room) by London based singer/writer Roger Knott is a
superb piece of work! The twelve original songs, penned by Knott, cannot
be faulted and the delivery is truly excellent. This is not a one-off. For
some years Roger has been working toward an album of this calibre playing
in a variety of guises, solo, duo, band, and recording four previous albums.
It was the 2004 release, "Find Your Wings", produced by former Dolly Parton
steelie Steve Honest, that began opening doors for this burgeoning talent.
The album was heard by respected Nashville drummer Pat McInerney who invited
Roger to record in Tennessee. The invitation was taken up and the result
was the exciting, all original, "Dust and Promises" released in 2006. Knott's
career was moving quickly.
For his next venture into the studios Roger chose noted producer Clive Gregson to move things forward. The venue was Nashville and the result was "Step Into The Sun". It was Charlie Daniels' country, that is, Mount Juliet, Tennessee, that Roger chose for his latest album, "Been Down That Road" with multi-instrumentalist Thomm Jutz in the producer's seat. With the quality of the material and with musicians such as Jutz (guitars, mandolin, Dobro, keys), Pat McInerney (drums), Mark Fain (acoustic bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle) and Jeff Lisenby (accordion, piano) Roger could not go wrong and he doesn't with such marvellous performances as the spiritual, "Been Down That Road" (my favourite cut), the optimistic "When Love Comes Round Again" and the story of "Uncle Charlie's Baton". Definitely an album not to be missed!
- Reviewed by Pete Smith "The Advertiser" (UK) 14 August 2009
" Been Down That Road ...is
jam-packed with songs that can only come from his experience as a
singer/songwriter. Having been down that road myself, I could relate to the
subject matters he covered in his songs. Style-wise, Roger sways back and
forth over the borders of genres, writing in anything from contemporary Country
to songs squarely in the folk realm. Add some Americana to that and
you're ready to sit back and be thoroughly entertained while listening to
this CD in a mannner that never repeats or gets stale. The CD was recorded
at TJ Tunes in Mount Juliet, TN and in listening to one song--the quality
of recording speaks for itself.
... A great CD for those people with eclectic tastes, "Been Down That Road" is sure to become one of the favorite CDs in any discerning music lover's collection. So check him out today because you're in for a real treat." - Dixie McCorkell--CEO Triplestrand productions and host of "Country Legends In The Making" and "The Americana Collection"--each show being syndicated to over 400 AM/FM stations around the world. http://legendsinthemaking.blogspot.com/2008/09/roger-knott-been-down-that-road.html
"Like it's predecessor, 'Been Down That Road' is a jaunty, observational journey into little America. Whilst love and emotion do raise their head, Knott's strongs are at their strongest when he's observing slices of life... It's country with an old timey swing tucked underneath the main sound. Summer days and the world drifting by." - FATEA Magazine
Roger Knott: "Step Out Into The Sun" CD
"For his third album Roger Knott
travelled to Nashville and employed the talented Clive Gregson to produce
this collection of fourteen songs that are firmly rooted in the tradition
of old country music. Its quite refreshing actually in
these days when pure country music is hardly produced to hear something as
fresh and natural as the sounds Knott makes here.
There is no trace of alt-country / Americana (or what it has become in recent times) or new-country here. Its country music as it used to be and Knott is adept at writing and singing in that genre. Gregson is an obvious choice as producer given his recent work with Nanci Griffith and Pat McInerney and Le Ann Etheridge who also work with Griffith make contributions here too. Its something of a country all - stars show really ; apart from the above the wonderful Cathryn Craig helping out on backing vocals, Mike Daly (Whiskeytown) adds his lap steel, Jim Hoke (Emmylou Harris) is there with his flute and saxophone and Thomm Jutz (Mary Gauthier) plays guitar. With a cast like that you just cant go wrong.
But no matter how good the musicians and producer it would be difficult of course to make anything more than a good album if the songs were not up to standard. Fortunately the songs here are all originals and Knott is, without any doubt, a top-notch songwriter.
Predominantly singing about the high and lows of love the opening cut, Call Me Back sets out Knotts stall nicely; a typical country melody and lyrics dealing with the frustration of trying to get the attention of the new girl in town. The following song, I Cant Find Anybody is another slice of pure country, with Dalys lap steel pushing home that country vibe its surely a song that is going to be a live favourite. That Knott is a talented songwriter is in no doubt ; the opening three songs all follow the same path of up-tempo sing a-longs but to some ears a whole album of songs like that opening trio is maybe a little too much of a good thing. As well played, produced and sung as they are the thought of fourteen songs following the same pattern was just a little too sweet.
So its with some relief that with track four, Late Bloom, Knott slows the tempo down just slightly and for the first time on this collection his vocals really stand out, there is more compassion, more feeling in his voice and, although the song again is a straightforward love song lyrically, that vocal performance and the slower pace lift the song just a few notches higher than those opening the album.
But the following song, The Sound Of Your Name is the highlight of the album. Slowing things right down, its a touching tale of losing a perfect love and just proves once again that while Knott can hold his own when writing and performing the more traditional up-tempo country songs he really shines when he slows things down; his vocals are outstanding when he tackles songs taken at a slower pace. Or try another love lost ballad Good Times Have None To Spare for confirmation. The same thing could be said of the touching tribute that is Seeing Ireland Again, another strong melody coupled with yet another strong vocal performance.
Having said that Knott excels with his slower songs there is no denying that its hard to listen to The Devil Riding By without wishing to sing along even when in the darkest of moods.
Step Out Into The Sun is not going to change the world, its not going to appeal to a wide audience but what it does is confirm is that in Roger Knott we have a singer-songwriter who is making outstanding music in a genre that is sadly overlooked these days. For the most part its a feel-good collection of songs which certainly lifted my mood when I listened to it for the first time and hasnt failed to bring a little sun into my life with each play."
Reviewed By: Malcolm Carter -
Roger Knott: "Step Out Into The Sun" CD
Staff Rating: 8.0 out of
10. "There is a wellspring of musical talent in and around Nashville
that is seemingly bottomless. For every so-called star that gains even a
hint of prominence, there are easily ten others who should be huge, and are
not, for one reason or not. Roger Knott would be one of those; it
may be that his high, pleasant vocals are not to a moguls liking, or
his looks do not fit into some preconceived notion of what this months
model should look like, or tracks like the exquisite The Sound of Your
Name from Step Out Into the Sun dont fit into the
play list of terrestrial country radio. No matter. Step Out Into the
Sun is a beautiful piece of work, worth listening to repeatedly.
Step Out Into the Sun is Knotts third CD (to my knowledge), and this time around he has Clive Gregson along on both sides of the console, producing and playing guitar and keys. A word about Gregson: he is the consummate musician, whether fronting Any Trouble or as the sideman for such stalwarts as Nanci Griffith. The trademark of his production is that he has none; he is able to bring the strength and sound out of whatever artist he is producing without etching his own name into the sidewalk, as it were. As a sideman, his playing supports and buttresses the featured performer. The result, on such tracks as The Devil Riding By, is that Knott and his carefully selected side musicians sound as if they are in your living room, or car, or office, wherever you happen to be listening to Step Out Into the Sun.
Knotts music is informed by equal parts country and folk, with some Celtic influence infused throughout. The result is an upbeat, bouncy, pop effect, nothing loud or intrusive or invasive. Think McCartney, or some of The Cyrkles more upbeat tunes. That is not to say that all is sweetness and light; Good Times Have None To Spare is one of the saddest songs Ive heard in awhile, a quiet, subtle tome of loss and regret that I keep playing over and over again, not because I identify with it but simply because it is so well done. The real sorrow, however, is that Knott is not the household name he ought to be. Perhaps Step Out Into the Sun will change that."
Written by: Joe Hartlaub - music-reviewer.com http://www.music-reviewer.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1228&Itemid=175
Roger Knott: "Step Out Into The Sun" CD
"If there were any believers left in the myth that Brits can't do country, then "Step Out Into The Sun" should nail that lie once and for all. Roger Knott's latest may have been recorded in Nashville, with the likes of Le Ann Etheridge, Pat McInerney and Thomm Jutz, but, Knott's writing and Clive Gregson's production are both home grown. The critical thing is that on a blind hearing, it sounds country, it has it's own distinct sound, but would be at home on any country station anywhere in the world. Knott has got this spot on and capable of sitting next to the local stuff."
Roger Knott: "Find Your Wings" CD
"Roger Knott returns with a relaxed acoustically based
album of new songs. Opening with Catch Me On A Good Day, with its
immediately memorable chorus, the tone is set for a collection that evokes
the great summer outdoors. Summer Flower is pure Paul Simon prettiness,
and Una Vida Mejor, with its subtle addition of strings becomes one
of the album's strongest points...
The acoustic guitar bed throughout the album, with additions of mandolin and steel guitar on some tracks, add a warm glow, especially on the closing instrumental Journey's End... A good summery groove - pass the wine! "
- Kingsley Abbott (popular music author and contributor to Mojo, Record Collector) November 2004
Roger Knott: "Dust And Promises" CD
" (The Story of Lead Belly) ... is accurate in fact and genuine in expression" - Sean Killeen, Lead Belly Society