His first album of original material in two decades feels as natural as his first recording.
by Pat Langston
Edge of Blue, the new album by Roy Forbes, glances backward while simultaneously speaking to the present.
The record is a tasty blend of soul, old-school rock’n’roll and country, with Forbes’s high, quavering voice—a voice that, decades ago, gave us the definitive cover of Hank Williams’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry—positioned front and centre.
When he decided to make the album, the West Coast artist quite consciously dipped into the past.
“I wanted to get back to the spirit of Kid Full of Dreams,” he says, referring to his debut album, released in 1975 when he was performing under the name of Bim. Back then, “I dug my heels in and said, ‘I want to sing everything live (off the floor).’ That’s the way you want to get me.”
Over the years, he’s taken advantage of technology for some records but for Edge of Blue the basic vocal tracks are live. There was some overdubbing and a couple of fixes along the way but not the autotuning and other tricks that make some singers sound so perfect it’s almost scary.
Making the album was “like it used to be. For the most part, what you’re hearing is what I was feeling. The vocals aren’t perfect but they are heartfelt.”
Even his pre-studio technique has an element of times past. When he’s working on a new song, for instance, he often uses a cassette recorder. He says it sounds terrible but he likes the tactile quality of the recorder’s buttons.
And though no one would accuse Forbes of living in the past, he mentions that most of the music he listens to comes from an earlier time, when today’s multi-track recording technology wasn’t available. If you’ve ever listened to the collection of 78s, 45s, and LPs he plays on his Sunday afternoon CKUA show Roy’s Record Room you’ll know what he means. Add it all up and this album feels like a first album to him.
“I can’t explain it, but it does,” says the man who has recorded 14 of them, including a couple as a member of UHF with Shari Ulrich and Bill Henderson. “I’ve kind of come full circle.”Continue reading