Sam Roberts: A True Canadian Hero? Maybe.

Sam Roberts.  Sounds like the name of the bully next-door neighbour who, when growing up, would put frogs in your backpack when you weren’t looking.  It doesn’t sound like the name of a Canadian music pioneer.  Perhaps anything but.

Except, that it is.

At the ripe age of 36, Mr. Roberts is already a Canadian icon.  After an extremely successful debut album, We Were Born In a Flame, which spawned hits such as Brother Down, Hard Road, Don’t Walk Away Eileen and Where Have All the Good People Gone, it seemed there was no stopping Sam Roberts from becoming the next Prime Minister and taking over Canada.

I will have to admit, I was a little skeptical of this new Canadian hero.  I was a fan of Brother Down but the rest of the radio singles previously mentioned seemed a little contrived to me, for some reason.  I liked them, but only to a certain point.  Not enough to go out and spend $14 on the album, and definitely not enough to see him live.  I blame it on my musical immaturity at the time.

Sadly to say, it took me until about a year ago to turn.  I saw Chemical City, Sam Roberts’ second album, at HMV one day on sale for $8.00.  I had only heard the single Bridge To Nowhere from this album but thought I couldn’t go wrong for that price.  Funny enough, this album was not nearly as critically acclaimed as We Were Born In a Flame, yet I found the songs to be much more honest and captivating.  To this day, I still believe that With A Bullet is Sam Roberts’ best work:  the lines “My love for you is as deep as a coal mine” and “If you were marked with a bullet/I’d jump in front of it/I’d rather die for love than die for the want of it” may sound mushy, but instead they create a sense of desperation and intensity that propel the listener into another state.

Or maybe it’s just me, either way, it’s gold.

Needless to say, Chemical City made a fan out of me.  Then I purchased Love At the End of the World and realized that Sam Roberts truly is a Canadian Hero.  Not a shoddy song on the entire album, this third release is just as good as the first two, if not better.  With diversity in songs from the straight-ahead pop rock of Them Kids to the apocalyptic Love at the End of the World to the piano-driven blues romp of Detroit ’67, this album exposes all facets of Roberts’ talent.  This is proof of his grandeur and deserved success.

Some may call Sam Roberts the Canadian, modern-day Tom Petty.  Personally, I’d leave that title to Matt Mays, but putting comparisons aside, it’s difficult to pigeon-hole an artist such as the very talented Sam Roberts.  With three full-length studio albums to his credit, several major hits in both Canada and the United States, it is still difficult to pinpoint his sound.

Who needs a genre to label someone as diverse and talented as Sam Roberts?  If you don’t like what you’ve heard from Sam Roberts on the radio, I’d recommend giving the songs I’ve listed a chance because what you hear on the radio doesn’t do his library justice.

The only thing missing from my personal experience is seeing him live, but soon enough.  Soon enough.

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~ by whet_hopped on September 3, 2010.

3 Responses to “Sam Roberts: A True Canadian Hero? Maybe.”

  1. I’ve seen him twice live and both times he blew me away. No band in modern music has mastered the “big finish” at the end of a show quite like Sam Roberts. Do yourself a favor and make a point to see him live. A good friend of mine saw him a the Pemberton Music Festival a couple of years back and swears to this day that during the end of Mind Flood Sam Roberts and his band actually made it rain…Crazy.

    • That is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard, Scott. GIves me shivers. Talk about a once in a lifetime experience!
      I desperately want to see him live, I will probably have to wait until he puts out his new album and does a supporting tour. Oh well, I know it will be worth the wait!
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Also very cool: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLQ5MYjKDCI

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