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Canadian musician to bring ‘Love’ to the Iron Horse

Tonight, our musical neighbors up north will export the exceptionally talented singer-songwriter Sam Roberts to Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall for an evening of good, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

The 7 p.m. performance features Canadian-born Roberts and his supporting band honing their craft in honor of their latest release, “Love at the End of the World.”

Opening the evening will be The True Jacqueline, a well-established Northampton collective of quirky harmonies and guitar eccentricities. Collectively, the band promises to diversify the evening.

Whether his name is easily recognizable in the United States or not, Roberts is no newcomer to the music business. The 35-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist has been one of Canada’s biggest independent artists since his debut in 2001.

“The Inhuman Condition,” his 2001 EP, captured the nation’s attention, establishing the musician as a fresh talent.

He followed up his lauded premiere with the full length, “We Were Born In Flames” in 2003. “Flames” featured the breakout hit “Brother Down.”

As the first single off of the album, the track has all the features of an alt-rock triumph: percussive acoustic guitars, introspective lyrics and the essential addition of beachy bongos. The single was met with tremendous success in Canada, as well as the U.S. in later years.

With the catchy riffs of “Brother Down” and “Don’t Walk Away Eileen,” “We Were Born in Flames,” caught fire immediately, rocketing Roberts to the frontlines of Canada’s music charts.

The album also earned him three Juno Awards in 2004, including for Best Artist and Best Album of the year.  

However, that was not the end of Roberts’ success, as 2008 brought the anticipated release of “Love at the End of the World,” his most recent album. Featuring a full band and a greater disparity of instrumentation, the record was a sure sign of innovation for the musician.

To label the album as nostalgic would not do it justice. Tracks like “Detroit ’67” have a fun, throwback feel, as implied by the title. The bluesy instrumentation topped with Roberts’ laidback vocals hearkens back to the early days of rock without attempting to imitate it shamelessly.

 “Stripmall Religion” preaches a similar message to “Brother Down,” commenting on the materialistic nature of humanity and the need for change. More guitar driven than the rest of the album, the song more closely resembles his previous work.

“Love at the End of the World” is characterized with Robert’s flare for riff-filled modern rock, sprinkled with the best of old-world influences. His music maintains the breezy feel of surf rock with the driving instrumentation of classic rock.

While the majority of his shows in this part of the continent have been performed at smaller venues like the Iron Horse, Roberts has also held his own at Lollapalooza, Live 8 and has opened for rock legends such as the Eagles. Even in these larger of venues, his sincerity and love of the art are unmistakable.

Roberts exudes energy. Everything from the vocals to the guitar to his on-stage persona is filled to the brim with life. It’s no wonder Canada has found their musical salvation in Roberts.

To his loyal fans, tonight will be an evening of classic alterative tunes, but to the newcomer it could just be their musical awakening of the decade.

Sam Roberts will be performing at Iron Horse Music Hall Monday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door.

Angela Stasiowski can be reached at astasiow@student.umass.edu.

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