In recent years, Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders have earned themselves a reputation as one of the hardest working bands around. A trio of by Billy Roberts (Vocals and guitar), Alex Quinn (lead guitar and production), and Rory Facione (drums), the band have become something of an underground success, championing a sound that drags classic country and western into gritty, rock-heavy territory. They’ve appeared all across the internet, drumming up a fervour of excitement for new album ‘Greenbah’, and now that it’s finally here, the rest of the world finally gets to hear what they’ve been up to.
Preceded by critically praises cuts like ‘No One Knows Me’, ‘Blood and Bones’, and ‘Little Johnny’, it comes as no surprise that the album itself arrives with more of the same growling rhythms and dense grooves. The three aforementioned tracks certainly take centre stage on the album, bursting out of your speakers with almost-rasping, emotive vocals and building rock melodies, they create a stable framework for a sound that is classic and familiar, but also intensely fierce.
The three quickfire cuts don’t stand alone, and elsewhere on ‘Greenbah’ Billy and his Rough Rides throw in some well-placed backing harmonies and a good dash of atmospheric splendour to keep the variety coming as guitar strings crash against heavy percussion. Closing number ‘Ed’s Song’ lingers with a subtle, droning sound, bringing ‘Greenbah’ to a fitting close, but it also serves to highlight the main flaw that lurks with the collection of rock-tinged anthems. It’s clear that Billy Roberts and his group know what they’re doing, and their experience builds a genuine sound that is difficult to pick apart, but on ‘Greenbah’, the organic, textured sounds sometimes slip away into a polished sheen that smooths the sound and takes away some of the character.
It’s a transient blip on an otherwise triumphant album and one that new listeners will likely miss due to the strength of songs like ‘Blood and Bones’ or ‘Only One’. In the end, what ‘Greenbah’ does do brilliantly is show off the latest evolution of Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders and prove that all their hard work is definitely paying off.