The Archives : Kenny Roby's "Rather Not Know" (2002)

Back when Ryan Adams wasn't terrible, I believe he said that Kenny Roby is the best songwriter in music. Hyperbole noted, but Roby is certainly a heck of a writer and singer. After disbanding North Carolina's 6 String Drag in 1998, Roby has gone on to release three solo records, all of which are superb. I've listened to all three over the years, but I seem to spend more time with 2002's Rather Not Know, an album penned following the death of his father.

Though there are moments of introspection and sadness, this is far from an across-the-board sad record. "Bobby Rodan" is one of the prettiest ballads I've ever heard, while "Glad It Ain't Me" is a jovial and hilarious country number that'll have your foot tapping in no time. "Not Gonna Give Up" is a charming and funny bar-rocker based on the hopes of two women, Thelma and Lucy. The record closes with the heartbreaking "Highway Cross", a song so beautiful that each listen leaves me mesmerized.

Roby's last record was released in 2006 and his websites have seen little movement since. If I recall correctly, Roby has quipped a few times about possibly leaving music. Richard Buckner said the same last year and we haven't heard a note since. It's an absolute shame when artist's of the caliber of Roby and Buckner can't make ends meet while delivering such meaningful and timeless music. If we're lucky, Roby will not be another casualty of an industry beyond turmoil.