We Were Born in a Flame [Bonus Tracks]

We Were Born in a Flame [Bonus Tracks]

by Sam Roberts
     
 

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This Canadian combo -- which bears its frontman's name -- has something of a split personality, boasting an equal propensity for roots-rock brawn and neo-psychedelic brain. On this disc (an expanded version of their 2003 debut), the band try on a number of styles and manage to slink along smoothly in the bulk of them, from the Beatles-circa-

Overview

This Canadian combo -- which bears its frontman's name -- has something of a split personality, boasting an equal propensity for roots-rock brawn and neo-psychedelic brain. On this disc (an expanded version of their 2003 debut), the band try on a number of styles and manage to slink along smoothly in the bulk of them, from the Beatles-circa-Revolver aura of "Paranoia" to the punk-pop bounce-along "Don't Walk Away Eileen." At times, the effort to touch all bases is a bit too palpable -- as evidenced by the wan orchestration of "Taj Mahal" -- but for the most part Roberts (the man) makes his shape-shifting sound entirely valid. His burnished voice is best suited to the disc's more rough-edged material, such as the chugging "Dead End," which recalls early Wilco, and the swaggering "Hard Road," which has something of an Oasis flavor. Roberts is an unrepentant disciple of old-school rock values -- he thanks Ted Nugent in the disc's liner notes and proudly proclaims his willingness to "die for rock and roll" -- but he doesn't let that keep him stuck in the past, sonically speaking, making We Were Born in a Flame a familiar and ferocious listen.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Tim Sendra
The first time Canadian rocker Sam Roberts released We Were Born in a Flame in the U.S. (in 2003 on Universal), it sank like a stone. His countrymen, meanwhile, were going wild buying tons of copies and honoring Roberts and the album with multiple Juno awards. In an interesting move, Universal decided to re-release the album in the States but put the record up for grabs among their subsidiary labels. Lost Highway was the winner, and the label reissued the album in 2004 with a different running order (some tracks were shuffled around, one, "Canadian Dream," was lopped off, and two bonus tracks were added at the end of the disc). If the album flops again on Lost Highway, someone else should try it again in 2005, because this is the kind of record that fans of intelligent, emotional, tough-with-a-heart-of-gold rock music should hold very close to their hearts. Roberts is a one-man dynamo, playing all the instruments save for drums, singing his guts out, writing lyrics that are never less than interesting and are often brilliant, dropping the kind of hooks that will have you screaming along in your car, and making just about every other mainstream rock band look like unfocused wannabes. Almost every song on We Were Born in a Flame would sound perfect on a mixtape or popping up at random on an iPod. The opening one-two punch of the driving "Hard Road" and the exuberant "Don't Walk Away Eileen" is enough to make you fall in love with the record. From there the record keeps blasting away with great uptempo tracks like the sunny, horn-laden "Every Part of Me," the post-punky "Higher Learning," the pounding "On the Run," and the swinging lament for the sorry state of people these days, "Where Have All the Good People Gone?" The ballads are excellent as well; Roberts' immediate melodies and his ability to be restrained without being boring serve him well. The quietly epic "Taj Mahal," the resigned "No Sleep," and the witty acoustic strum-along "Paranoia" are all wonderful, but best of the lot is the lilting lament for a messed-up life, "This Wreck of a Life." The two bonus tracks are pretty swell, too, coming from the Inhuman Condition EP Roberts released in 2002. Both "When Everything Was Right" and "This Is How I Live" are rollicking, ramshackle affairs that add some flash and spunk to the album -- not that it really needed a boost of energy, because if there is one thing Roberts has, it is energy. The songs sound like they are bursting out of the speakers; bursting with life, love, and guts; bursting with all the things that make rock & roll a life-changing experience. Songs like "Don't Walk Away Eileen" don't come around too often. Instant classic is the word that comes to mind the second time Roberts hits the howling chorus. Along those lines, you can draw a line straight from the Beatles to the Band to '70s Dylan through Tom Petty, the Clash, the paisley underground, and Sloan, and place Roberts right at the end. He has a firm grasp on rock history but doesn't feel the need to mimic his idols. He just makes music that would make them proud. While singer/songwriters like Ryan Adams and bands like the Strokes get all the hype, guys like Roberts fly along under the radar (in the U.S. anyway), making the records that mean something. We Were Born in a Flame and Sam Roberts deserve Junos, Grammys, gold records, magazine covers, and everything that making such an amazingly good record should bring. Above all, Roberts deserves the gratitude of all those who were just waiting for a rock record to come along and knock them back on their heels.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/31/2004
Label:
Lost Highway
UPC:
0602498633571
catalogNumber:
000317002

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sam Roberts   Primary Artist,Violin,Multi Instruments
Derry Byrne   Horn
Henry Christian   Horn
Jordon Zadorozny   Drums
Rod Murray   Horn
Steve Hilliam   Horn
Chris Startup   Horn
James D. Hall   Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Corey Zadorozny   Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards,Background Vocals
George Donoso   Drums
Dave "Elmo" Nugent   Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Eric Fares   Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Sam Roberts   Composer
Brenndan McGuire   Producer,Engineer
Jordon Zadorozny   Producer,Engineer
Susan Michalek   Art Direction

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