Rising Stars [Issue
We Were Born In A Flame
Passion and sincerity
are dying concepts in the music business. Most so-called artists are more than
eager to follow the leader down the shortest road to mediocrity for a few dollars
and an appearance on TRL. Fortunately, Sam Roberts is not one of them. The Montreal
native, who recently released his debut CD We Were Born In A Flame, has
finally begun to realize his dream of a respectable music career without sacrificing
The past decade
has not been without numerous near misses and frustrations for the 28-year-old.
When his band Northstar imploded in 1999, Roberts retreated into creative isolation
and began formulating the style that would launch his meteoric rise. With the
clarity of hindsight, Roberts observes, "The memory of that isn't going
away. I think it helps everything. I think it makes you a better songwriter.
It definitely makes you a better person. And those are the two things that I'm
really worried about."
One of the earliest songs he crafted during this period of intense productivity
was "Brother Down," which he recorded as a demo in hopes of generating
some interest from the elusive record industry. Much to his amazement, the song
soon virtually became the Canadian National Anthem of last summer. The success
of the unlikely smash single along with "Don't Walk Away Eileen" propelled
his indie release The Inhuman Condition EP to selling over 40,000 copies
Considering many major labels with an army of consultants, managers, and other
overpaid yes-men cannot always claim such impressive radio reports and sales
figures, record executives desperately swarmed around Roberts to pursue the
rising star. Instead of being lured by hollow promises of castles and caviar,
the singer-songwriter most adamantly wanted creative control. Though such a
request is almost always vehemently denied, Universal Music consented to relinquish
the artistic reigns because Roberts clearly demonstrated that he already had
his hands on the cultural pulse. He explains, "I've been waiting to make
this record for a long time, for my whole life really. I didn't want to let
anybody, including the company [Universal] or anything sort of stand in the
way of me making the record that I'd always wanted to make."
Quite simply, the record is wonderful. We Were Born In A Flame is a parade
of brilliantly crafted songs performed with confidence and conviction. Unlike
the homogenous albums of today's market, Roberts' first offering reveals incredible
depth and limitless scope. Every song embraces a range of emotions: loss, discovery,
hurting, healing, anger, and acceptance.
The album's organic flavor is seasoned by the clever production and engineering
of Brenndan McGuire (Sloan, By Divine Right). Like Roberts himself, this collection
of material keeps one eye respectfully studying the past while the other gazes
into the future's possibilities. Sam Roberts, who speaks with an air of mystery,
ultimately reveals his ambition to make the most of his opportunity when he
eagerly remarks, "I'm curious to see where it goes from here. I'm really
anxious to make the next record already."
We Were Born In A Flame