LIVE If you throw a rock in L.A. and you don’t hit a Starbucks, you’ve probably knocked a musician out cold. Guitar slingers are a dime a dozen these days, but quality tunes are scarce. Viral videos and auto tune have taken rock n’ roll hostage, Facebook fans are more important than real fans, and virtual ‘likes’ carry more weight than a modern track that cuts deep. But hope remains for the future of music. L.A.’s own Steven Roth is knocking on your door, and whether or not you’re listening, you will hear him.
After enjoying relative success as pop rock ‘Redstone Hall’, including a gig in support of Audioslave and recording sessions with Devo’s Gerry Casale, lead songwriter and frontman Steven Roth decided to go it alone, handpicking his crew to back his new musical endeavor. Roth’s debut album, “Let It In”, released to high acclaim in January 2013, infuses classy savoir faire into vibrant rock. The resulting sounds are dynamic and diverse, and a clear reflection of Roth himself. A singer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist, Roth is a vessel of musical knowledge and abilities, having paid homage to the heroes of the rock n’ roll timeline. With roots in the classics and an eye on innovation, Roth’s sound is a refreshing combination of pop-rock, soul, funk, and blues, filled with melody, mood, energy, and honesty. Roth’s musical approach is entirely organic, and it’s this sense of purity that sets Roth apart. While most of his contemporaries are transfixed by over-production, Roth strives for ‘the real’ on all levels. In Roth’s world, auto-tune is blasphemy. Perhaps it’s his connection to the classics that explains why Roth was chosen to support ‘The Who‘ on the L.A. bill of their recent tour. Handpicked by rock icons Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, Roth was a worthy choice, making a Staples Center crowd of more than 15,000, rise to their feet.
Roth’s approach likens his sound to the late 60’s rock wave of raw emotion and organic experimentation, but Roth adds a sharp edge of his own, making fresh incisions at will. This mash of honest and original movement can be heard throughout his work. The tunes have vintage overtones fused with a modern sing-along vibe, but it’s his confessional-style vocal that takes center stage. Roth sings with the soul and passion of a ‘down on his luck’ blues crooner, with chops that are soothing and tender. But right when he’s put you at ease, the frontman will unleash his inner angry McCartney, belting out a throaty rock growl to rev your juices.
As quickly as he shape-shifts from swooner to snake, Roth traverses genre, incorporating seemingly everything he’s learned and loved about music. It’s his ability to blend sounds and styles that makes each song entirely unique. There’s rock and there’s blues, and then, there's a little funk and a lot of soul.
To make the album, Roth embarked on a creative pilgrimage to Nashville, where he began carving out the songs that would eventually become “Let It In.” Teaming up with renowned producer Dave Cobb [Secret Sisters, Shooter Jennings] and Grammy Award-nominated mixer Leslie Chew, Roth recorded the album over the course of four weeklong sessions.
It’s nothing strange that Roth made quick work of the studio. After all, he built his own recording house in his Southern California home, where he produces and writes daily. His studio is just another extension of Roth himself. His life is music through and through, and it only makes sense that he rests his head just feet from a wall of sound.
Roth’s personal connection to music is as pure and inspirational as ever. "I want people to feel where I was when I wrote the songs and connect on an emotional level beyond the superficial,” he explains. But it’s not enough for Roth to create: he yearns to connect, and his live show is a testament to this desire. His frontman persona stirs images of Morrison, Jagger, and the rest of the captivating icons of crowd chemistry, but of course, in typical Roth-style, his own personal flare and unmatched energy are always evident and nothing short of captivating. Roth’s love affair with the live show is obvious. He’s on the road 200 plus dates a year and makes certain that each show is a spectacle of energy, improvisation, and passion. There’s a reason Roth has had the honor of opening for legends such as Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey. It’s this same reason why Roth’s following is swelling atypically fast and his recent L.A. shows have been packed to ‘sweaty capacity’. Perhaps it’s also why Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz chose Roth from over 3,500 artists to perform at his own personal South by Southwest showcase. Roth will be the first artist to perform at Duritz and music blogger Ryan Spaulding’s ‘Outlaw Roadshow’ in March at Rusty’s in Downtown Austin. Roth is a rare breed in entertainment. He appreciates and loves music too much to let us down.