Sunday, August 6, 2017

All of My Stories - Michael Roberts Hits the Seet Spot

All of My Stories

Michael Robertson

Michael Robertson is one half of a great brother team that includes his younger sibling Scott Robertson. Michael has a powerful contralto that hits the pocket with nuance and fire; he’s a perfect lead singer. Scott can sing lead or harmony. He’s one of the great tenors in rock & roll. I first got to know them as the Robertson Brothers and within a year or so they caught fire as Maybe August, supplementing the band with Roscoe Selley a harpist extraordinaire and a great singer. Keith Carolyn became the bass player and he laid down the bottom like a wrench putting the torque on a nut. The drummer was cool and laid back. But that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone. Now Michael is older and wiser. He’s eschewed the pomp and circumstance of a travelling band and decided to focus on lyrics, tones and the language of the country born of heart, hearth and struggle. The cover has a perfect black & white hue in sepia tones, Michael’s hair is windblown and impervious to the overgrown grasses and haggard trees.

The disc opens with the title song All My Stories. This is the plugged in version with Don Rich country style pickin’, the musicians let the instruments breathe and stretch out. The unison vocals of Robertson and Honesty Elliot shine softly above the instruments. This is a mature song cycle that speaks to loving as opposed to lust and loss for what is inevitable.

Highway Song is a precious diamond in the rough. The cry of the lap steel sets the tone in sepia color with Dylanesque charm and Al Cooper organ splashes. Robertson builds those stately notes big and beautiful and Selley’s lonely harp sings to the night.

Sirens hijack my attempts to fly

Those days we swore we’d never come back

Truth was fiction and fiction was fact

Big screens and real estate

How’d the hell did we get here

We drank to the future and pretended we didn’t know

We laughed as the bridges burned

And the lessons we learned

Take your maps and pictures and throw them away

Old Man sounds like a Rolling Stones outtake on the Honky Tonk Women sessions. Michael is doing his Keith Richards, lurking in the shadows with and bemoans his lost youth while looking back on his career. He’s still a rebel. This is great singing and great playing. Everyone in this project is a monster musician!

It wasn’t so long ago

We were young men

Frisky and ready to take on the establishment

Lines on our face don’t stop us from digging it.

Old man I don’t give a goddam

We all look into the mirror eventually

Sale on Salvation is a Maybe August song excavated and put in its proper place and time. Michael strums the acoustic and begins to sing as the organ splashes the backdrop. The lyrics are clever and the singer’s voice is road hard. There is a couplet within the song that was quite controversial back in the day, “shoot any more liberals” use to contain a naughty word.

We got a sale on salvation all of this week

So they‘re flying out the door as fast as we speak

If I can just keep my tongue out of my cheek

I might not be condemned to eternal damnation

But the song ends well enough with a rendition of Amen

Its Not What You Think is simply incredible. It opens up with Robertson’s lap steel and mindful strumming. Michael’s voice has aged well like a fine whisky and it parrells his wisdom for the ages. It’s our only time, our only life. It’s a song of sepia tones and ugly truths; a woman with a baby and a boss with a libido.  Robertson plays the lap steel and it whines in tune with the sadness and suffering. He reaches for the heavens. It’s a cry for life.

Michael inserts …

There once was a man from Nantucket

Kept all his dreams in a bucket

One day he woke up and said

Its funny how there is no one to blame

It is what it is and

It’s not what you think

Blame on You has a tightened up percussion, punctuated drum beat like Archie Bell & the Drells on steroids. Acoustic/electric guitar flourishes ring out.  Robertson is at his angriest best when he sings about his pain and getting away from words. The holes in your hands lyric appear to be a reference to Jesus or to suffering.

Get from your head to a place I understand

Get down from the mountain where you stand

Maybe I’ll just turn and walk

Like I don’t give a damn away

Little Man opens with a sweet circular riff followed by Michael’s voice – the drummer is in the pocket and the slide guitar soars like an eagle in flight. This is an ode to a father and son, a true agape, in the vein of Cat Stevens’ Over Young.

Little Man, Little Man

Look at you now

Before you know it

You’ll have stories like me

Little Man Little Man

You won’t know how fast it will be

Somedays you’ll wake up and outshine the sun

Little Man,  I already know

Shut Up and Go to Sleep has a great guitar riff that repeats and brings it all home. Incessant drums and high hat lead the charge, great energy and a lot of fun. This involves kidding in the square, underneath it all are some very serious issues.

I left the Misses to Mr. Right

Hand cut to the Camaro

Parked out of sight

She was screaming out something

And I was trying to steer

There’s got to be someplace I belong

But I know it ain’t here

All My Stories (acoustic) is a masterpiece similar to Van Morrison’s You Stoned Me (like jelly roll). This alternate acoustic take is the most incredible song I’ve heard in years. Now I know for sure there is a spirit of heavenly love and bliss. It is in those soft voices that reassure us. Michael Robertson is the seeker and he knows true love can last way past the heat.

Tonight I lie Down on my bed

Escape the mantra in my head

The voice outside sounds just like you

Saying some dreams still come true

But you know all my stories

Some day the voices just won’t leave

They come to me and say…just breathe

Take me now for what I am

The shadow of a better man

Waiting here for you to save me

Take me now for what we’ll be

A better you and a better me

Michael Robertson and Honesty Elliot teamed up to create a musical landscape of harmony and peace. This is adult music and adult thoughts. What’s next, old How will we wear it?

Peace & Love

Bo White

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