From the opening jangle run of “No One Knows Me”, the song provides a showcase for Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders’ consistent craftsmanship and evolving maturity. The song is earnest and straightforward, as rock and roll should be. This is no glossy pop record, no young upstart trying to capture glory at any price. Detractors might claim it too simplistic, too single-minded in its musical attitude and initial lyrical attack. But “No One Knows Me” is clearly an expression of what Billy Roberts feels right now, and his honesty—coupled with his talent—is revitalizing.
Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders are nice because you kind of always know what you’re getting. Sure, Billy gives you the old switcheroo every once in a while, but for the most part you know that when he goes into the studio, his goal is to come up with a bunch of warm ‘familiar yet new’ guitar hooks in the neglected genre of “melodic American rock” (with the occasional detour into pop balladry, country-folk, electric blues and/or Americana). Thankfully, his formula again works just fine on “No One Knows Me”.
In this day and age, with so much in flux, and so many hollow and cynical dispatches of mediocrity celebrated like greatness, Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders is a potent remembrance of that which matters, and that which lasts forever. It’s not the production aesthetics on the outside but the core of the songs on the inside that establishes its real goodness and hence, longevity.
Music is much like fashion, where flashy clothing designs drop in and out of favor from year to year, while the less talked about quality cloth, from which the designs are cut remains a mainstay in the industry. Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders is the cloth in that equation.
The new song is as melodic and visceral as his early ones, but possesses a freshness and a sense that this songwriter is really enjoying writing his new material. And when songwriters enjoy what they do, the emotions they feel are injected directly into their songs, and are infectious – and so, many of Billy’s feelings are emanated into “No One Knows Me”.
Connected to the juice of rock and roll, those feelings become a source which is electric and alive.
The passion of Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders, their exquisitely elevated musicianship, and the dimensional and inspired songs of Billy Roberts, once again shine here with the singular human warmth of this astoundingly simple and direct artist.
Like some of his legendary peers that came before him, Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders has never let go of that thing which gets him going in the first place: love, devotion and reverence for the song. That comes before all, the often superfluous, technical production waste that many so-called artists build their careers on.