Robin Rogers

Robin Rogers
Treat Me Right

Blind Pig Records BPCD 5123

By Bill Copeland
April 2009

Robin Rogers released her latest CD Treat Me Right on Blind Pig Records. Debuting on the national blues label wields the caliber of talent this Charlotte, N.C. native has risen to with a label that can get her the recognition she clearly deserves. Her voice is full, vibrant, lithe, and wide-ranging, with just the right touch of rasp.

The 11 tracks here are all solid blues numbers with Rogers either belting, cooing, and or seductively serenading the listener with her time-tested svelte vocal. She appropriately wraps herself vocally and emotionally around each track. Check out the raw emotive power on the final track “Dark Love” to hear how she balances emotional tension with tender delivery.

Her title track displays wide vocal timbre with tough-mama personality. “Donít Leave Poor Me,” fires off further proof of Rogersí passionate delivery as she urgently pleads with a singularly bonded partner not to walk out the door. Living a hard-scrabble life as teenager in the late 60s, Rogers has lived the blues as much as anyone else in the genre. Her up-by-the-boot-straps struggle can often be felt in her intense delivery.

“Ainít No Use,” a piano blues ballad, rolls comfortably forward with a bass line wrapped snugly around drums and keys. From this platform Rogersí raw, gutsy vocal takes it sweet time - and I do mean sweet - gliding around knobby instrumentation. Ballads give Rogers a chance to uncoil all the spring in her range.

“Can You Hear Me Now” is a mid-tempo blues rocker and, again, taking her time shows all Rogers has to offer. Raspy and plaintive, she restrains what could be a wail into a voice that she controls like an instrument. This song also has plenty of attitude, and shows a strong personality - the mark of a good songwriter.

Rogers, possessing much life experience to draw from, co-wrote seven of these 11 tracks with her husband, guitarist Tony Rogers. She has the spitfire personal oomph to match the emotional range of her words to her powerhouse vocal talent. I can almost picture her composing these tunes with studious attention to detail, singing test lyrics aloud to herself until her matches the precise words to the appropriate melody.

“Colorblind Angel” commences with a marching beat and slide guitar that producer Jim Brock has appropriately enlarged to epic proportions as Rogers sings about historical events. Written about KKK-slain white civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo, Rogers puts her heart into this tale of a woman who died for what she believed in.

“Nobody Stays” has a lilting raspy tone that matches her resignation to her series of failed relationships. This song glides along with tasteful shots of harmonica, organ, and mellow octave guitar leads that belie the struggle that goes on in the abandoned heart of this songwriter. A jazzy horn melody breezes its ways through and serves as an excellent counterpoint to Rogersí raspy, forlorn sadness. Itís nice to hear a singer-songwriter who can build so much emotion into her songs while making it sound easy and real.

Rogers didnít put any generic filler material in her Blind Pig debut. There are gems at the end of the disc too. She shows her observational wit on “Drunkardís Alley,” a collection of instances she obviously has seen up close and personal. Each clever verse neatly fits into her chorus: “Down in Drunkardís Ally where salvation is so hard to find.”

“Nobodyís Gonna Hurt You” has a warm tone in her voice that Rogers adeptly matches to a swinging horn and the feisty band under the surface.

Robin Rogers has come a long way since winning the Charlotte Blues Societyís Blues Challenge in 2003. Moving to Blind Pig Records was the right move. I can only wait until she comes to Boston.

www.robinrogers.com

www.blindpigrecords.com

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