Taylor Roberts, Show and Tell (TR Music, 2003)

When you listen to Taylor Roberts or see one of his shows, you can tell heís having way too much fun. His music is playful without being goofy, and full of heart. He fuses folk and rock into a blend that makes you want to clap and stomp your feet. Robertsís music is full of energy, his lyrics incredibly quotable, and his outgoing personality infectious.

Roberts has been on the Raleigh music scene for about ten years now, starting off with college band Figment and the Rest, and even cutting an album with them until the band went their separate ways after everyone graduated. He teamed up with Kyler England for a while in a duo referred to by fans as The Lers (for the similar second syllable in their first names), but then Kyler left for Boston and the Berklee College of Music. All this time, Roberts was honing his songwriting skills and improving his singing voice, which came to fruition in his first album Picture the Scene, released on Robertsí own label in 2002. Performed with a full band, the album showcased some amazing songs, among them "Love You Still", "Turnaround", and my personal favorite, "Angel". There were a variety of songs on the album, but Roberts absolutely excelled at the power ballad, of which there were more than a few.

Then, in mid-2003, Roberts released Show and Tell, an acoustic EP which reworks two previous songs, and presents three new ones. As opposed to the produced style of the full album, with players on lead and rhythm guitar, bass, and drums, the EP is stripped down to Roberts on acoustic guitar and vocals, Brian Tavener on djembe and percussion, and Mark Nippert on violin. The trio brings a different tone to the songs, more intimate, more cozy, like an Irish session without the Celtic music. You get the feeling watching the trio at the Six String Cafť or other acoustic venues that they could jam all night long, if they were so inclined. Robertsís playfulness and sense of humor are evident in those live shows, mostly in the form of puns or insultingly cheesy jokes.

Show and Tell is a good sampling of Taylor Robertsís style of music-making, an after-the-fact taste. What the EP does most effectively is gets you to enjoy the music so much that youíll want more than five songs by the guy, ever-so-slightly twisting your arm into buying the full album as well. Which youíll want to do, trust me.

[Jason Erik Lundberg]

Find out more about Taylor Roberts at his official Web site.