Roger Salloom

Last Call

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Roger Salloom's colorful backstory has the potential to overshadow his actual work, but fortunately, Last Call is solid enough to keep that from happening. Salloom started out in a late-‘60s West coast psychedelic band called Salloom, Sinclair & the Mother Bear, whose lone, overrated album has subsequently generated some interest among psych collectors as a cult item. After a move to Nashville to pursue songwriting in the ‘70s, and an attempt at reestablishing himself in California, Salloom settled in Northampton, MA, going into semi-retirement from music for some 20 years before finally reemerging as a mature, rootsy troubadour. He started making up for lost time with 2004's Eventually. Last Call, the reenergized singer/songwriter's third solo album of the decade, is the sound of a man who's been around the block a few times but hasn't allowed his hard-won wisdom to darken his outlook on the world. Salloom's creaky, well worn voice has a bit of a Steve Forbert-ish quality, and slips easily into these amiable, unassuming tunes. Things kick off with the infectious, ska-tinged "O' Nello", but in short order, the feel shifts towards an easygoing mix of blues, soul, and folk-rock. If you didn't pay attention too closely, the friendly, unhurried vibe might make you peg Salloom as some sort of New England Jimmy Buffett, but once you start really tuning into the lyrics, a deeper story is revealed. "Life Is Short" and "When You Can't Do Anything" offer an almost existential perspective on life, with the narrator even whimsically imagining his own demise on the former and happily settling into an existence somewhere between No Exit and Groundhog Day on the latter. "The best thing I do is nothing, and I'm doing it the best I can," he observes on that song, somehow making it sound like the wisest life choice imaginable, and that little magic trick is just where Salloom's true gift seems to lie.

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