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Music Review - `Hearty` by Roger Salloom (jh)

Roger Salloom -  Hearty  (click on image to watch video)

26 April 2019 


Visit Roger Salloom’s website and you’ll see the term “America’s best unknown songwriter.”  Go a bit further and you’ll learn that Salloom was a cog in the San Francisco psychedelic scene of the late ‘60s at the iconic Fillmore with Santana, Van Morrison, B.B. King and Procol Harum. He then pursued songwriting in Nashville, fell off the radar for twenty years before emerging in western Massachusetts where he’s delivered some strong work in the past two decades. However, aside from a few stellar songs on Hearty, it’s fair to say that this album doesn’t live up to Salloom’s accolades or rich pedigree. Sure, there’s enough material here for an EP but it seems that Salloom pulled from several disparate places to construct an album, that in the end, is not a cohesive statement.

When compared to such gems as his outstanding 2009 Last Call, Hearty falls short. Sure, it’s easy enough to listen to and there’s nothing here that will necessarily make you hit that fast forward button, but it is a curious mix. Part of that is due perhaps to Salloom using different configurations throughout rather than using a core band. Even so, we begin with a rather odd “field recording” using a smart phone for “Not Here Nor Anywhere.” That’s followed by covers of “Jelly Roll Baker” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” which best redeeming aspect is the late Charles Neville, a close friend of Salloom’s, on sax. We also have a faithfully rendered, but unnecessary cover of “Deportee” as the closer. ”Knock Me a Kiss” is also a cover.

Yet the gifted songwriter Salloom emerges, doing it best with two political statements, an anthem for America’s current deteriorating values in– “Don’t Let My Country Wash Away.”  Then, as if to say, “I’m not really preaching” he goes for the lighter side on “Get Up & Vote.”  Keeping with the political themes, he wanted to touch on immigration and thereby delivered “Deportee.”  This, especially his two originals, is the strongest part of the album. Salloom’s got the goods but should have brought more of them to the table.


Note: There is a 2006 film about Salloom, titled So Glad I Made It, The Saga of Roger Salloom, America’s Best Unknown Songwriter. The film has earned rave reviews and numerous prestigious awards. For example, Grammy Magazine chose the film as one of the top 12 in the last 10 years as noteworthy for the Academy members to view.  You may want to check that out. It will give you a much “bigger picture” (no pun intended) than this album will.


Jim Hynes



Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here




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