An album composed in Brooklyn typically doesn’t sound like the sleepy countryside in the South. That is unless said album is written on a Collings 0002H and recorded in the writer’s native Nashville after he does a quick stint living in Montana. Luke Roberts’s sophomore effort, The Iron Gates At Throop And Newport, entwines those influences with simple lyrics and intricate instrumentals via cameo appearances by Billy Contaraz on fiddle and mandolin and Emily Sunblad on vocals.
Lyrically, Roberts bounces back and forth between being sour over a relationship to hopelessly waiting on love to respond. On opener “I Don’t Want You Anymore,” Roberts takes a stance on leaving a relationship, yet on “Will You Be Mine,” he longs for the opposite: “Will you be mine when the stars come out/Beyond the shadow of a doubt?/Will anything ever be fine/Or will you ever be mine?” He plays with both emotional sides instrumentally as well. On “Every Time,” the fiddle and mandolin play parallel riffs of equally sad and happy moments. “Old Fashioned Woman” follows the same pattern with brooding basslines thumping under twangy, upbeat guitar pricks.
While Roberts’s debut, Big Bells And Dime Songs, went for a sparser sound, Iron Gates sees Roberts adding more layers. It’s less bedroom, more band-centered than his previous work, but the music still feels uncomplicated, as Roberts doesn’t sway from the sweet simplicity of his country-folk blend.