Kenny Roby has shared a video for "Old Love" (watch/share)—the second single from his forthcoming double album, 'The Reservoir,' due August 7 from Royal Potato Family. Produced by Dave Schools of Widespread Panic, the emotionally and musically expansive 16-track collection addresses Roby's struggles with addiction, mental health issues and growing older, while attempting to persevere in the face of such challenges. Premiered today by Glide Magazine, the latest single "Old Love" was written as Roby's marriage of 20-plus years was dissolving.
"This was the first song I wrote at the beginning of the break up of my marriage. It was just a few days after the lightning bolts hit in the those initial conversations. I have no idea where it came from," explains Roby. "I picked up the guitar and started strumming and singing the pre-chorus and chorus one morning. Then it just churned in my head after that for a few days and I wrote the two verses. Three months later it was the first song Neal Casal heard of this batch of new songs that would become 'The Reservoir' album."
It was Spring 2019 when Roby started sending these latest songs to his old pal Neal Casal who had emerged as a top-tier guitarist with the likes of Chris Robinson and Ryan Adams among others. Roby's new reflections clicked for Casal, especially the way he seemed to stare down age, addiction and anxiety and push toward something like acceptance. Casal agreed to produce these songs. And then, in late August 2019 a few weeks before the sessions were to commence, Casal was dead—suicide, at the age of 50.
But Casal had not kept quiet about these budding tunes. He had told Dave Schools, the legendary Widespread Panic bassist, about them. Schools and Roby began talking after Casal's passing. During a musical memorial to Casal at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, they made final plans to convene in October with a dream team of players, including guitarists Jesse Aycock and John Lee Shannon, bassist Jeff Hill and drummer Tony Leone, for a week of recording in Woodstock. Roby had culled 25 songs into 16, and the band captured many of them in only a few takes in the same room. They sound like a veteran ensemble on 'The Reservoir,' with each of these numbers settling into a deep groove.
'The Reservoir' collectively summons the wealth of Roby's experience, as a human being and as a musician. He revisits the specter of addiction with the fractured gothic gospel of "All Trains Lead to Cocaine" and recognizes that recovery is a constant process during the springy folk-pop charmer, "Just Because." He questions the roots of faith and recognizes the goodness of the universe in the preternaturally graceful "Watchin' Over Me." On "History Lesson" (listen/share), a whistling-and-mirthful ode to taking a risk with whatever life you have left, the lyric speaks of learning something from the terrible and terrific alike. He sings all these songs with the wisdom of lived experience, a gift and tool for listeners to use.
Kenny Roby - 'The Reservoir'
Available August 7 on Double LP Vinyl, CD & Digital Formats