People don’t universally agree on much, nowadays. One thing that most people can agree on, however, is that there is a gross underrepresentation of certain musical genres in the modern climate. While most will point to Rock music as being on the verge of extinction, some of its spawns may be growing even more obscure. While what Mark Rogers does isn’t necessarily a spin off of Rock music, as he describes his genre as closer to country, he does fit some of the criteria. Mark Rogers crafts what could be considered as easy listening or adult contemporary songs, that don’t receive the attention that say, hybrids of Dance Pop do. Of course, while you can always count on your local Starbucks to feature the Singer/Songwriter type, mainstream radio used to as well.
Mark Rogers latest effort, Rhythm Of The Roads, could be considered something of a comeback. Some time ago, he set down his guitar to step into a new life. But as is often the case, he realized there were still stories for him to tell, and judging from this album, that’s generally considered a good thing. You could debate whether it was a matter of kismet, all along, but Rogers found himself in the familiar embrace of inspiration. On Rhythm Of The Roads, Mark Rogers digs deep into his own garden of life, and shows sedulous attention to detail.
The album opens with a red rock by way of Dwight Yoakam rockabilly ballad, “$50 Fine.” It’s a piece that almost instantly transforms you to a convertible, somewhere along a stretch of Arizona desert. Rogers’ vocal is airy and clean, and while it’s a solid track, it clocks in at a weighty 5 and a half minutes. Something with a bit more brevity and punch might have preserved any potentially short attention spans, but “$50 Fine,” sets the tone well for the crux of the record. You’re able to get an immediate sense of Rogers’ competency as a performer and a songwriter.
“Just So You Know” is one of the most poignant and poetic moments on Rhythm Of The Roads. It’s also the song most obviously inspired by the pandemic. The lyrical imagery is so strong on “Just So You Know,” that you almost begin to tune out the music, no pun intended. Just so you know/we were on the road/we were on the verve of revolution. You could listen to this song a hundred times, and discover something new, upon each spin.
The first time we actually hear the toms used on the album is on the sluggishly paced, “Rain Parade.” While this one is a nice addition, as it gives the record a bit more range, it ultimately blends into the peripheral. It’s not Rogers’ most polished vocal performance and his overly reserved approach nearly lapses into lethargy at times. The shining star on this track is the rhythm section, who both sound tremendously locked in. While the drums, especially, are required to keep things repetitive on “Rain Parade,” it shows that with the right degree of immersion, simplicity can be profound.
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On the closer, “Flying,” Rogers has his Dylan moment, and goes full electric. This track features the most fluid and definitive guitar work on the entire album. It serves us with the type of extended instrumental section, that all of music is desperately starved of in the modern era. You feel a sense of swirling and sonic euphoria, as the song fades out like a flying carpet of sound. Rhythm Of The Roads is a fine, 4 star addition to Mark Rogers’ discography. It was to universal gain that the muse came knocking on his door once again, and to his credit, he stayed ready.