Kenny Roby knew from the start there would be a lot to say for his first solo album in seven years, the emotionally and musically expansive “The Reservoir”. So much had changed in his world and the world at large since his stately 2013 LP, “Memories & Birds”, an exquisite reflection on the experiences and apprehensions of crossing over 40. Kenny was now 48. He had been sober for half his adult life. Both his kids, somehow suddenly in their 20s, had left home. After more than two decades together, he and his wife had decided, rather amicably, to separate and try something else. Kenny’s band 6 String Drag—an iconic alt-country unit who were signed to Steve Earle’s record label and helped shape that very term as young North Carolina men in the ’90s—had reunited for runs of spirited shows and a barreling, but wise rock ’n’ roll record, 2018’s Top of the World. And then, of course, there was the wider social upheaval of the last decade, the feeling that all the progress Kenny had seen in his lifetime was in sudden peril. That was plenty to process for a dozen songs, right? Neal Casal thought so. The band met for a week in Woodstock in mid-October for sessions that were swift and natural. Kenny had culled 25 songs into 16, and the band captured many of them in only a few takes in the same room, with Kenny singing live as they played. They sound like a veteran ensemble on “The Reservoir”, with each of these numbers settling into deep and natural grooves. These tunes collectively summon the wealth of his experience, as a human being and as a musician.
I had the chance to catch up with Kenny t talk about the ins and out of the new album to be released August 7th on Royal Potato Family. We got into how the album took it’s shape from the beGinning moments of sharing out demos to trusted ears. We discuss in depth how our pal, Mr. Neal Casal (Rest peacefully) made it clear he wanted to be a part of these stories in one way or another…and how in any and every situation, it’s about being in the service of the songs. By the end of out talk, Kenny chose one track off the new album he would build a set around and his accompany tunes he’s pair off it made me want to try that set out on my home stereo. The album has a reason and I can feel why Neal was sure of it.