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AJ Roach – Dogwood Winter

Posted by December 13th, 2003 No Comments »

Flowers are purty.A.J. Roach
Dogwood Winter
New Folkstar Records
By Sonja Oliver

Like most people, I’m usually late to shows, missing the opener and only catching the second act or headliner. This wasn’t the case Nov. 16th at the Tractor Tavern and boy, am I glad. I was excited to see Bobby Bare, Jr. for the first time and also to watch Mayor West, an up-and-coming alt-country foursome and favorite among the Nada staff. The opening solo artist was someone I’d never heard of, and I was reluctant to give up my comfy seat and vodka tonic at Hattie’s Hat to wander next door.

Flowers are purty.A.J. Roach
Dogwood Winter
New Folkstar Records
By Sonja Oliver

Like most people, I’m usually late to shows, missing the opener and only catching the second act or headliner. This wasn’t the case Nov. 16th at the Tractor Tavern and boy, am I glad. I was excited to see Bobby Bare, Jr. for the first time and also to watch Mayor West, an up-and-coming alt-country foursome and favorite among the Nada staff. The opening solo artist was someone I’d never heard of, and I was reluctant to give up my comfy seat and vodka tonic at Hattie’s Hat to wander next door.

Luckily, the bartender at the Tractor also had plenty of vodka on hand and as I sipped my favorite beverage, a scruffy young man with downcast eyes and an acoustic guitar took his seat on stage. A few minutes into his set, I found myself standing front and center with widened eyes and an open heart as his mournful lyrics and simple strumming captured my full attention.

A.J. Roach’s solo debut album Dogwood Winter isn’t flashy. It isn’t upbeat. Nor is it complicated. It’s simply beautiful, focusing on emotion, family, and matters of the heart. Songs such as “Granddaddy” and “Mountain Heir” are musical narratives extolling country living and natural beauty, while “Temporary,” and “Lost Again” are soulful ballads focusing on love and relationships. Roach’s twangy Virginian voice accompanies guitars and fiddles throughout the album’s tracks, lending traditional sound to a musical art that’s making a comeback amidst the distraction of rapid fire rapping and synthesized blips and beats.

After his set was over, I ventured over to the merchandise table and gladly plunked down my money for a copy of Dogwood Winter. Less than 24 hours later, I’d listened to it in its entirety at least seven times, and have doubled that number in the following week (which has to set some kind of record.) I can guarantee I’ll try harder to arrive early for those “unheard of” opening acts,” and hope a small fraction display the talent A.J. Roach did at the Tractor last month. – (9/10)


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