Roll On

Studio Album by released in 2009
Roll On's tracklist:
Who Knew
Former Me
Where the Sun Don't Shine
Down to Memphis
Strange Days
Cherry Street
Leaving in the Morning
Oh Mary
Old Friend
Roll On
Bring Down the Curtain

Roll On review

The time to go out of the shadow

The career of American multi-instrumentalist J.J. Cale, the founder of the so called Tulsa Soul sound, started more than fifty years ago. His real name is John W. Cale, but in the middle of 60s, he took the scenic name J.J. in order to avoid confusion with John Cale from Velvet Underground. For many years, Cale actively toured and performed in different clubs. His style was formed on the eve of his career and did not change since that – minimalistic arrangements, thoughtful lyrics and blues-meets-jazz harmonies. He recorded all in all more than twenty albums and is known as a cult, but underestimated musicians for more than three decades. On the big scene, he is famous mostly for his songwriting Eric Clapton’s hits After Midnight and Cocaine. His songs were also often covered by other performers, and they always became hits. Moreover, such stars as already mentioned Eric Clapton along with Mark Knopfler, Brian Ferry and Neil Young acknowledge the influence of Cale’s songs on their music. However, in the beginning of this century, it was the time to go out of the shadow for the artist. Thus, on the fiftieth Grammy award ceremony, Cale got a prize for his collaborative with Eric Clapton disc The Road To Escondido, while the interest of the public to his music got stronger. This year, J.J. Cale recorded his new long-play Roll On, which is sure to catch even more attention of the listeners.

J.J. Cale continues his collaboration with Eric Clapton

As everyone could expect, several songs for the album Roll On were recorded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the North studio of David Teegarden. Teegarden also shared the drummer’s duty on the disc with Jim Keltner. On this album, the artist stays faithful both to his habits and well-known style. The first prove of it is the titling track of the disc – Roll On, which was recorded by Cale and his long-time friend and colleague Eric Clapton. It is a memorable pop tune in the spirit of roots rock. The long-play opens with the jazzy melody Who Knew, which is followed by the introspective and philosophic composition Former Me. On such tracks as Where The Sun Don't Shine and Fonda-Lina, J.J. makes small musical experiments, which do not change the things drastically anyway. The dark Where The Sun Don't Shine features an unusual keyboards line, while the song Fonda-Lina has something Spanish in its core. One of the most hooking tracks on the disc is the bluesy Down To Memphis, while the catchy motif of Strange Days has the mix of acoustics and boogie – however, J.J. Cale also manages to astonish with banjo and mandolin play on this tracks. The eternal and beloved by the artist theme of the road can be seen vividly from the very title of the track Leaving In The Morning. The tune Oh Mary has an enormous portion of his energy. Such tracks, as Old Friend and the album closer Bring Down The Curtain, explore such topics as mortality and losses.

Roll On: the vintage music of nowadays

It should be stressed once more that during the whole length of his career J.J. Cale did not change his style. It helped him to stay recognizable in any decade of his creative activity. Well, what for would he need experiments and hesitations if he has already found himself in the world of music, and all he makes is pleasant to himself and the public? Although some of the artists, who seem to fallow the same way, we can call the hostages of the genre, this diagnosis has no attitude to Cale. He knows how to create beautiful and minimalistic pop rock music, and he does not wish more. Besides, he manages not to repeat one and the same thing, writing his masterpieces on the favorite topics. The songs from Roll On sound the way like they were recorded in the past century, but it is undoubtedly contemporary music. This contradiction is no wonder, as last year Cale celebrated his seventieth birthday. And the major part of these years were spent in the concerts, in the studio and between the cities and towns during his tours. Well, the artist saw and surpassed much – and that is reason why his thoughtful disc Roll On stands out in the line of other releases. Nevertheless, the musician shows no weariness in his songs – his voice is still strong, while Cale’s tunes still impress. His monolith, philosophic disc Roll On can be assuredly called his most elaborated work to date.

Ninelle Kazakoff (11.03.2009)
Rate review4.85
Total votes - 154

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