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Cirque Du Soleil
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Rising Stars [Issue #4]
Sam Roberts:
By Dean Truitt
We Were Born In A Flame (CD Universal)

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 any integrity.

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 to date.

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

Sam Roberts We Were Born In A Flame

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