Album Review: Chris Roberts - "The Way West"

Talented singer/songwriter releases first solo record after time spent honing his craft in Nashville along with time in Broadway productions, and as a member of critically-acclaimed trio One Flew South.

It’s always a treat to live in Nashville and have the luxury to hear talented singer/songwriters perform their music virtually everywhere there’s a stage. Chris Roberts, who has worked as a singer, songwriter, producer, band member and actor for years, finally is releasing his own studio album and he’s proof of the brilliant talent that is so pervasive in Nashville.

Blending a rootsy vibe with classic singer/songwriter motifs, The Way West announces a talent that deserves any and all attention Chris Roberts gets. “Some Beginnings” starts the record and instantly showcases Chris’ talent as a songwriter and as a singer with lyrics about relationships with chorus that absolutely slays in it’s meaning and depth but still wrapped up in a sonic template that’s jovial rather than depressing. “On My Way To You,” a song Chris Roberts wrote with Johnny Bulford (“A Woman Like You”) and Chris Gelbuda, is the kind of song that showcases Roberts’ strong voice, a voice that sits somewhere between Richard Marx and Vince Gill.

“Picture On The Wall” is perhaps the best slice of adult alternative pop/rock that America and the world has yet to hear. The chorus refrain that says “You are the picture on the wall I can’t take down” is among the most effective metaphors for not being able to move on from a broken relationship that I’ve ever heard. This is a song that could be a hit for many people and its the kind of song that good A&R people should demand to have on records. It’s a song of substance that can work in a pop music or country music formats. “’63 Airstream” is a great song about exploring America’s wide open highways and byways with those that you love while “

“I Believe In You” is as strong a love song as it is a song about eternal optimism and faith in the goodness of humanity while “Heartless World” offers a similar vibe in it’s story about love providing a guiding light even when all hope seems lost. For as strong as the first nine songs are it is the 1-2 punch of the final two tracks on The Way West, the title track “The Way West” and “Song For A Girl” which are the anchors that give The Way West its heart, heft and emotional core. “The Way West” feels like it could’ve been on a McCartney record with its gift of melody and visual lyrics as an homage to the beautiful Montana lands from which Roberts came while “Song For A Girl” is as beautiful as it is personal for Roberts as he sings about being a father and it reminds me of something Lionel Richie might’ve written in years gone by.

The more one listens to Chris Roberts’ The Way West the great songs and albums of singer/songwriters like Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, Randy Newman, Phil Vassar and Mary Chapin Carpenter spring to mind. That is to say that anyone who enjoys great melodies, great vocals and of course lyrics with a purpose will find something to enjoy here.

Buy: Apple Music