One of the greatest qualities of folk music is the story. There’s always a story in the song somewhere; you might have to search deep down in the lyrics or deep within yourself to find the story, but it’s there.
The songs on Luke Robert’s debut, Big Bells and Dime Songs, have stories too, but I don’t think I’m supposed to be listening. Each time I listen to this record I feel like I’m picking up the phone and hearing my neighbor’s conversation. There’s a story being told but it doesn’t mean much because I don’t know the history or emotion that goes along with the conversation. Roberts’ songs are very personal and their subject matter is all over the map, so much so that I have difficulty connecting with these songs. After repeated listens there is no doubt that this is a solid piece of folk music from a talented songwriter, but I’m still left a bit flat.
In all honesty I believe that Big Bells and Dime Songs is a record that demands a lot of your time, attention, and reflection to appreciate. Unfortunately our modern lifestyles aren’t always as accommodating to Luke Roberts’ kind of art. Time is key to getting the most out of this album, and time is often a scare commodity. This is music for quieter, slower times. I hope that one day this will be one of the greatest records I own.