Cottage country. Island time. Sunsets in the cove with oysters and wine. It’s the time of the year to unplug. Set aside the noise, bright lights, and packed schedules of the city and get some much-needed R&R. The pace slows, priorities change, worries melt away, and an appreciation for the simple things takes over. Singer-songwriter Rocky Roberts is fully steeped in that spirit on his latest EP Pieces of Time. The record billed as Rocky Roberts & Friends boasts a very talented group of players including appearances by the one and only Norah Jones and Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket. Roberts has collected a host of accomplished musician friends in his time as a guitar tech for the likes of Neil Young, Wilco, Patti Smith, CSN&Y, Paul Simon, Lucinda Williams and My Morning Jacket.

Pieces of Time is as unhurried as the locales that have inspired Roberts over the years, namely his time on the coast of Marin County, California and Wolfe Island, Canada between Ontario and New York State. Both places are havens for artists, spurned on by the region’s natural beauty and separation from city hubbub. The daily rituals and points of interest are woven into the lyrics to transport the listener to one of these quaint villages. The record is a back porch/feet dangling from the dock slice of warm Americana.

‘Buck Moon’ opens the album with a classic cowboy-picking saunter. Blues bar piano and tasteful guitar embellishments coat the chords. Roberts croons an ode to the crucial side-men he’s played with over the years, primarily dedicated to Neil Young’s pedal steel maestro Ben Keith. Norah Jones lends her voice in a very complimentary way to Roberts’, not overpowering or shrinking into the background. A testament to temperance which is the essence of the song’s theme. The taste, trust, and teamwork involved in great musical collaboration. Echoing the song’s message, Broemel adds a subtle shimmer to the track without taking an overt solo.

‘Wild Riders’ is a wistful tribute to the Hog Farm. The storied hippie commune that began in North Hollywood and expanded across the country to extend its influence to many significant events and causes in the 60s and 70s. Roberts longs for the days of heady ideals and collective action in this loving tribute to the glory days of evolved thought. ‘Party Line’ bops along on a playful fiddle. Farmhouse animals and community characters populate this Saturday night BBQ tune. The album closes with Tomales Bay, a swaying sunset scene in the oyster-rich bay on the west coast of Marin County. This wine country ditty scores an evening living the good life. Great food, great wine, great women, and the perfect place to rest your soul. Sensual guitar, breezy accordion, and romantic trumpets complete this idyllic tune.

Pieces of Time is a slice of the simple life. It’s a hard-earned simplicity. A reflection on a life with a million and one stories that has now refocused on finding peace in the quiet coves of the world. Put it on to transport yourself instantly to serene surroundings and easy-living days.


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