Roy Rogers back in saddle with edgy new album |

Roy Rogers back in saddle with edgy new album

Roy Rogers, "Split Decision" (Blind Pig Records, April 21)

Although he lives in nearby Nevada City, Roy Rogers doesn’t have any Tahoe shows planned until next fall at the earliest. But fans of the blues slide guitarist don’t have to wait that long to hear his sounds ” a new album will be released Tuesday.

“Split Decision” is eclectic and edgy.

“It’s got more of a crunch to it, if you will,” Rogers said about the first album he’s released in seven years.

But that doesn’t mean he’s been away from the studio. Rogers enjoys taking on explorative musical projects, and in recent years, has collaborated on CDs with Ray Manzarek, Norton Buffalo and Shana Morrison. He has 18 albums, and his latest is a return to the record label, Blind Pig, that he had at the beginning of his career.

While it’s all blues-based, “Split Decision” covers a wide range of styles including jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. The way it is sequenced is like hearing a story about a journey narrated by Rogers’ whirrly guitar. And, naturally, there is noteworthy collaboration.

“Your Sweet Embrace,” one of three instrumentals, mixes Rogers’ slide with the fingerstyling of nuevo flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert. Rogers called the blend of American and Spanish blues a “poignant melody.”

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Rogers refined most of the songs for years.

“I like to go in prepared,” he said. “I’ve been working on these things for a while and playing some of them live just to get a feel for them.”

However, he said, the most upbeat song on the album, “Little Queen Bee,” took just five minutes to write.

“I couldn’t write it fast enough,” he said. “If you don’t put it down it gets lost sometimes. A lot of times the music does come first, but (sometimes) the lyrics can come first.”

The album’s release coincides with Rogers performing at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Appropriately, at least three of the tracks could be about Hurricane Katrina: “River of Tears,” “Bitter Rain” and “Walkin’ The Levee.”

The metaphoric gospel “Holy Ghost Moan” also has a Southern flavor. It deals with a crossroads encounter and leaves a lot of room for interpretation. For me, the man in white is Rogers, whose proficiency with the guitar is so astonishing it doesn’t seem possible to be the work of a mere mortal.

” Tim Parsons, Lake Tahoe Action