Tim Rogers – Rogers Sings Rogerstein

RHETT DAVIS tries in vain to hear the influence of the mysterious Shel Rogerstein on Tim Rogers latest solo effort.

Tim Rogers rarely finds himself flying solo. Of his last four records without You Am I only one of them bears his name alone. His newest release is no exception, with the billing shared equally between Rogers and a reclusive new songwriting partner named Shel Rogerstein, a US native with a reported penchant for tango. As if fearing being left alone with his own voice, the record also features duets with two great female voices: Lizanne Richards and Sal Kimber. But, despite his attempts to smudge his own fingerprints, this album is Rogers all over.

The songs are about relationships, but not those of young summer love. These are adult relationships, grown under difficult situations and duress, as well as happiness. Questions of responsibility, fatherhood and his relationship with his oft written about daughter Ruby, are laid out in Rogers’ honest warts-and-all style.

Rogers’ voice is as much a unique instrument as any amp or guitar. Its callousness is used with understanding, while melodies are crafted around his limited range with the ease of experience. Even when he tries to blanket it with the fine voices of Richards and Kimber on ‘All Or Nothing’ and ‘Walkin Past The Bar’, respectively, it stands out on its own again. Where Rogerstein is in all this remains a mystery.

It’s been suggested that Rogerstein is another creation, another facet of “The World According To Tim”. His failure to materialise both on stage and in press has been shrugged off with Rogers claiming that his songwriting partner is simply “shy of the limelight”, but that doesn’t account for the lack of impression “Rogerstein” has made on Rogers Sings Rogerstein.

“Where Rogerstein is in all this remains a mystery.”

Ballads are lush with reverb and hints of psychedelic effects – standard solo Rogers affair – while some of the record’s deep cuts sound like b-sides from You Am I’s last self-titled adventure (‘I Love You Just As You Are, Now Change’). Much of the record has a folk/bluegrass bent with lap steel guitars and perky mandolins – a slightly new sound in Rogers’ repertoire – but it’s certainly nothing far out from his musical universe. His career has been built on the sounds of past eras made new again, and with the current folk revival trend he’s sounding practically modern.

Rogers Sings Rogerstein is one more open-faced diary entry in Tim Rogers’ musical journal, and the songs are the kind of honest and personal tales that manage to touch our own insecurities. However, the mysterious Rogerstein – either real or fictional – is never heard, and the promise of something new and different isn’t really delivered. Despite his best efforts to the contrary this is very much Rogers Sings Rogers; a fine record, but more of the same.