Reviews - Awards
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - FOLK ROOTS RADIO with Jan Hall
"You should probably fileCanadian singer-songwriter Rob Lutes’s seven albums under “folk,” but there’s more than a bit of blues and soul in his arresting vocals. This latest record includes a dozen originals (three of them cowritten), plus a fine cover of John Prine’s “Rocky Mountain Time” (from Prine’s Diamonds in the Rough). The instrumentation—which includes keyboards, mandolin, violin, percussion, guitars, and harmonica—is consistently excellent, as are Lutes’s contemplative lyrics about life, love, death, and the blues."
"For folk roots with a blues foundation, I don’t think it can get much better than Rob Lutes and Walk in the Dark."
Donald Teplyske, Fervor Coulee
Full Review: https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/tom-savage-mark-martyre-rob-lutes-reviewed/
"...a back porch/Americana date that is so real and well conceived you have to play it several times to make sure you heard what you thought you heard. A real cooker all the way loaded with real music for the real muso!" Midwest Record
Full review: Midwest Record
"A masterfully beautiful album." Rootsville
Full review: Rootsville
"Nu eens heel literair ingesteld, dan weer grappig en mild-ironisch, dat ik hoe Rob Lutes klinkt op zijn nieuwe plaat: hoogstaande songkwaliteit, geloofwaardige zang, fraaie muzikale inkleuring en straffe observaties, in verhalen omgezet. Die dingen zijn nodig om toe te kunnen treden tot de galerij der groten uit het genre. De namen van Forbert en Prine vielen al en dat is precies het rijtje waarin ook Rob Lutes thuishoort. Het wordt weer uitkijken naar zijn volgende passage in de Lage Landen…"
Full Review: http://rootstime.be/index.html?http://rootstime.be/CD%20REVIEUW/2017/AUG1/CD29.html
"Avec Walk in the Dark, Rob Lutes confirme une fois de plus sa place au sein des grands fabricants de chansons."
Yves Bernard, Le Devoir
Full review: Le Devoir
"With Walk in the Dark, Rob Lutes once again confirms his place among the great songwriters." Yves Bernard, Le Devoir
"...a thirteen-track collection of both literary and musical craftsmanship. Varied, expertly composed, and atmospheric, Rob Lutes’ Walk in the Dark is an album that shouldn’t be missed this September." Emma Sloan, Canadian Beats
Full review: Canadian Beats
"...when he whips out a song as remarkable as ‘There’s No Way To Tell You That Tonight’ that you’re totally won over to his cause. With a supporting cast of top notch Canadian musicians helping him along, this is a record that merits long term investigation." TheRocker65
Full review: The Rocker 65
"A pleasure every time....a true piece of art." Blues 'n' Roots Corner
Full review: Blues n Roots Corner
"Rob Lutes, in my view, has only released excellent albums. This one is no exception.... beautiful songs." Johnny's Garden
Full review: Johnny's Garden
"As a genuine wordsmith, Rob’s songs are put over with powerful literary skill, and the album benefits from careful listening to really grasp that skill...superbly produced and with a vocal quality that reaches out and draws you into the songs." Blues n Roots Radio
Full review: Blues n Roots Radio
"By continuing to explore over the years and albums, Lutes has forged his own distinct approach, with albums that combine songwriter numbers, blues and touches of folk and jazz, with room for modern touches thrown in. The title cut is one of his best tunes ever, as well-crafted and heartfelt as a John Hiatt cut. Then comes a smoking instrumental, Spence, a tribute to Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence, a big influence on players such as Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder. On it Lutes, MacDonald and Grass show off some serious string skills, another weapon in the arsenal. Its an album that deserves awards, if they can figure out which genre to slot it in." Bob Mersereau, Top 100 Blog/CBC
Full review: Top 100 Canadian Blog
"This guy is a great guitarist, a master wordsmith and a good storyteller. Like the songster or minstrel of old, he weaves a tapestry in music and song that captures the listener from the start, drawing them into those snippets of what I am considering are bits and pieces of his real-life experience... this combo plays so well together that their sound blends into a singleness of song. Bound for great things, Rob Lutes is one of those guys who, some 20 years down the road or so, will be touted as an "overnight sensation." Walk In The Dark is another one of those things I would label as "damned good" music...for lack of a fitting category. Some might call it Americana, others might say roots music, still others might call it a blend of related styles. I think I might just call it my lucky day. " Bill Wilson, Chicken Wilson Reviews
Full Review: http://chickenwilson2.blogspot.ca/p/november-reviews.html
"Hay que destacar que el grupo que acompaña a Lute también es fundamental para envolver toda esta exploración sonora compuesta por 12 canciones que son un viaje a lo desconocido, una caminata en la oscuridad, como bien lo ha marcado Rob Lutes desde el nombre del disco hasta la última nota que se escucha."
Historia del Blues
Full Review: https://historiasdelblues.com/2017/10/18/rob-lutes-walk-in-the-dark-2017/
“Veteran Montreal singer/songwriter Rob Lutes treats us to another fine collection of new ones...You will especially like “There’s No Way To Tell You That Tonight (James Cotton)”, a tale that takes place at a Cotton concert. Lutes can rock out if he wants to, as “Pumping Love” attests.”
John Valenteyn, John's Blues Picks
Full Review: http://torontobluessociety.com/johns-blues-pick-october-2017-rob-lutes/
“4 Stars. A profound, laid back record that will stick with you... Walk in the Dark is one helluva record.”
Hot Wax Album Reviews (US)
Full Review: https://www.buzzsprout.com/121761/584612-hot-wax-album-reviews-7-for-oct-13th-2017
“Situated at the intersection of the blues, folk, Americana and contemporary singer-songwriter genres, "Walk in the Dark" is an exquisite collection of songs that highlight Lutes’s unmistakable voice and literary writing style.”
The Blues Music Blog (US)
Full Review: http://thebluesmusicblog.blogspot.ca/2017/10/canadian-songwriter-rob-lutes-new-album.html
“An acclaimed finger-style picker with a burnished vocal delivery...Rob Lutes continues to show why he is one of the most compelling storytellers on the blues-roots scene."
Sheryl and Don Crow, Blues Blog (US)
Full Review: https://donandsherylsbluesblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/rob-lutes-review-october-11-2017/
“ Walk In The Dark is a great album. Instrumentally, everything is perfect. Rob's voice is made to sing these kinds of songs.”
Concert Monkey (Belgium)
Full Review: http://www.concertmonkey.be/albumreviews/rob-lutes-walk-dark
“The foundation of Rob Lutes' music is the amazing voice in combination with the excellent musical accompaniment of his band...another excellent Rob Lutes album.”
Rudolf's Music (NL)
Full Review: https://www.rudolfsmusic.com/rob-lutes/
"The bluesy ‘Pumping Love’ has a lovely ragtime guitar intro, and Rob’s vocal on this track and the closing song, ‘Better Past’ remind me more than a little of New Orleans great Mac “Doctor John” Rebennack. Then there’s the penultimate item, ‘Believe In Something’, which is pretty close to countryjazz. As you may have guessed, this is then a rather intriguing release!"
Blues in the South (UK)
Full Review: http://bluesinthesouth.com/graphics/BiTS_10_OCTOBER_2017.pdf
"Lutes has a way of telling a story and composing a tune that just sits right. Think JJ Cale and Mark Knopler. Country western / bluegrass styling makes Rabbit another standout track featuring the violin work of Josh Zubot and Joe Grass on mandolin. Very nice. A happy feeling track, Believe In Something, will have you bopping in your seat with loose vocals and flashy, hot club style picking on the guitar. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Better Past, a bluesy shuffle but retaining that rural bluesy feel. This may be one of those releases that you have a hard time putting your finger on why you like it...but you really do. Super job."
B Man's Blues Report (US)
Full Review: http://www.bmansbluesreport.com/2017/09/lucky-bear-records-artist-rob-lutes.html
"Pour son septième album, le Canadien nous revient avec son univers de balades blues, country, folk, de hautes volées. Bien soutenu par 10 musiciens et choristes, la voix légèrement râpée du chanteur fait merveille sur ses compositions et reprises. « Walk in the Dark » reste mon titre préféré, mais les 13 chansons méritent une écoute attentive. Un album a écouté tranquille au coin du feu, par exemple. Un CD classieux."
Blues Alive (FR)
"Rob is an excellent guitarist, tasteful and melodic, and a great singer with a full and somewhat hoarse sound and clear voice. From the very first song "A Little Room" he grabbed attention and did not let it go."
Full Review: http://barnowlblues.punt.nl/content/2017/09/Rob-Lutes-Walk-In-The-Dark
"4.5 STARS. 13 formidable roots and blues songs from this Canadian master songwriter."
Keys and Chords (NL)
Full Review: http://www.keysandchords.com/album-review-blog/rob-lutes-walk-in-the-dark
"En tout, treize titres qui ne peuvent laisser indifférents. Si vous ne connaissez l'homme, je vous encourage à le faire."
Blues Again (FR)
Full Review: http://www.bluesagain.com/p_selection/selection%200917.html
“Lutes is highly respected and this disc clearly shows why. His lyrics are deep and have been described as “literary” and one listen to this disc clearly proves the truth of that statement. Lutes covers a wide array of styles and carries them all with craft and style. A certified “Professor Bebop Wax Devoid Of Cracks”!”
Dave Rogers, WTJU University of Virginia
“Here’s one of the top 5 acoustic CD’s I’ve heard in the past several years! Lutes writes great stuff and plays out of this world. If you are an acoustic guitar lover you need this one! It is just beautiful. It’s brand spanking new, and deserves to be heard!”
Blue Barry, Smoky Mountain Blues Society (US)
“A particular universe emerges from this disc which is at the crossroads of blues, Americana and folk. With the help of some of the best Canadian musicians, Rob Lutes was able to highlight his original voice, veiled and harmonious for this seventh very musical album with the feeling and the tranquility of a JJ Cale, the sense of melody and perfect arrangements. When we listen to 'I Am The Blues' we realize that Rob Lutes is more than a lyricist – he's a true poet. This is a pearl. If you do not know this artist, I encourage you to look him up.”
Blues Again (France)
“There are songwriters and there are songwriters. The latter being students, pupils of Dylan, Guthrie and all the country and blues artists who laid the foundation for all music. Rob Lutes is a form of all the above, and with his seventh album “Walk in the Dark” he has arrived at the summit.”
Rick Keane Music Scene (Canada)
“Walk In The Dark is a real showcase for Lutes’s rhythmic guitar playing style and his soulful voice. Each track unfolds like a story unto itself, drawing you in as it invites you grab a chair and give a listen. From Rob’s guitar playing to the contributions of his friends and fellow musicians the musicianship is superior, worth the price of admission on its own.”
John Kereiff, The Rock Doctor/Gonzo Okanagan (Canada)
“Canadian Rob Lutes, captures the dramatic authority of well written songs on his seventh album Walk In The Dark. A mix of influences pulled together into a cohesive sound. The album has a confidence reflecting the style that is distinctively Lutes and pulls you into the mood he has created...it's timing, superb song writing and delivery that sets the album alight and makes Rob Lutes an artist I want to go and explore.”
Blues Matters (UK)
“On his seventh album, Canadian singer/songwriter Rob Lutes adds new depth and feeling to his signature sound. Walk In The Dark often reminds of a late-period John Hiatt studio work and the songs and performances here possess a warm combination of laid-back swing in the playing and catch-you-looking bite in the lyrics that leaves you thinking about these songs long after you’ve shut things down for the day. Beautiful ensemble playing, fine vocal work and some tasty guitar picking complete the package.”
Scene Magazine (London, ON, CANADA)
“Mix blues, folk, Americana with some country influences and you've got the recipe for this new album from Canadian singer songwriter Rob Lutes. A wonderfully relaxing sounding album with great musicians. Rob Lutes is a credit to the Americana genre. If you love this kind of music, buy this album!”
Blues Magazine (NL)
«L’album...présente magnifiquement sa voix soul et son groove contagieux. Lutes coréalise le disque avec Rob Heaney (Cirque du Soleil) et il est entouré par des musiciens de renom. C’est un album solide du début à la fin que nous offre un Rob Lutes en grande forme.
On his seventh album, acclaimed Canadian songwriter Rob Lutes does what he has done for years: kicks up a little dust, wades into some deep waters and tackles the realities of the world with depth, humour and a unique musical style.
Situated at the intersection of the blues, folk, Americana and contemporarysinger-songwriter genres, Walk in the Dark is an exquisite collection of songs that highlight Lutes’s unmistakable voice and literary writing style. Co-produced with celebrated Montreal producer and Cirque de Soleil collaborator Rob Heaney, the album features a group of Canada's finest roots and blues players, including guitarist Rob MacDonald and keyboardist Bob Stagg along with noted artists Ian Kelly, Guy Bélanger and Joe Grass. It finds Lutes, a Kerrville New Folk winner, Maple Blues and Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee, exploring a wide range of subjects and paying homage to some heroes: James Cotton (on There's No Way to Tell You That Tonight) and guitarist Joseph Spence (on the instrumental Spence).
Recorded mainly over three days in late January at Studio Fast Forward in Montreal's Notre Dame de Grace borough, the recording captures the essence of Lutes's soulful voice and rhythmic guitar style, enveloped by a group of players who are no stranger to his groove. Featuring 12 new originals, including two co-writes with award-winning Americana songwriter Dale Boyle, and the forgotten John Prine gem Rocky Mountain Time, the album digs deep into the roots of Canadian and American music and delivers another strong statement. "This album, of all of them, was a journey into the unknown, which is why I like the title so much," Lutes says. "With a great co-producer, and a group of phenomenal players and friends, I went in to the studio to find these songs. And I really feel like we did that."
Preview tracks on Soundcloud
A Little Room
Absence doesn't always make the heart grow fonder. A little musical oddity that I loved and worked up into this song about freedom and finding some space. I love the band's feel on this tune. It's one of my favourite Rob MacDonald guitar solos ever, and after seven records, that's saying something.
There's No Way to Tell You That Tonight (James Cotton)
I wrote this in a few hours a couple of days after seeing a James Cotton show in London, Ontario. I met him backstage, but his voice was largely gone. His harp tone was like freight train that night. Rob MacDonald's guitar and Guy Bélanger's harmonica add some bluesy textures to this heavy groove.
Music is good for your heart and head. I learned that as a five-year old going to bed with my radio tuned to the FM station in Saint John, NB but sometimes I forget. So this song is a reminder of what this music thing is all about. I began writing this song on the highway while on tour in Europe in 2016. This might have been the most fun I had in the studio this time, hearing Bob Stagg on the Wurlitzer and Rob MacDonald on the electric guitar riff off this funky little groove.
I Am the Blues
Another song that was written on tour in Europe in 2016. It was inspired by Dan Cross's film I Am the Blues, which is a gorgeous, moving, bittersweet journey into the Deep South with a group of aging blues legends who embody the spirit of the blues. When it was written, this was a slow blues. The band and co-producer Rob Heaney suggested it should move a little. I'm glad I took their advice.
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Co-written one evening in my living room with Montreal songwriter Dale Boyle. There are lots of reasons to open our eyes and hearts in the darkness. I invited my friend, the celebrated Quebec singer-songwriter Ian Kelly to sing backing vocals on this one. His pure vocal adds the ethereal quality that I was looking for on this tune.
Walk in the Dark
The future is unpredictable, so we are all walking in the dark in a sense. Love makes the journey worth it. I started this one a few years ago, and finished the lyrics just before recording with help from my wife Monique Riedel.
Usually my songs have had a bit of live performance history before I take them into the studio. This one was brand new so it was an outlier on this record. We were truly walking in the dark on how it would come out. When Bob Stagg added the organ part to the band, it made sense. I love the driving feel of it. Get in the car and turn it up.
This instrumental was originally inspired by the music of Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence, one of the most singular players (and singers) I have heard. I pushed myself to try and conjure his style a bit on my acoustic. This is a more bluegrassy and breakneck sound than he ever put out there but the seed came from his beautiful, rhythmic playing.
Along with Andrew Horton's killer bass lines and Rob MacDonald's fiery dobro work, I wanted some mandolin on this one. I invited well-known Montreal player Joe Grass, a fellow New Brunswicker who plays just about every stringed instrument, to come in and lay some down. He arrived at the studio with this sweet mandolin part all worked out. That and his great rhythm help make the tune for me .
Rocky Mountain Time
A John Prine song from his 1972 album Diamonds in the Rough. It touches that place of lost longing that we think we are going to grow out of entirely but never quite do. I first played this with my friend, the singer-songwriter Dave Carmichael back when we were students at Acadia University and we were digging in heavily to Prine's vast catalog. This was always one of my favourites and to me it is less well known than it should be. I hope this version helps correct that.
Once again, Mark Nelson and Andrew Horton hold down a perfect feel for this, with Bob Stagg's swirling accordion and Rob MacDonald's electric guitar floating in the ether.
When your heart swells, you're onto something good. This song came out in a short time to celebrate that truth. This song is one of two on this album without percussion. It kind of has its own little groove with a conversation between the acoustic, Rob MacDonald's electric and Andrew Horton's upright bass.
Our human ways, viewed in animal terms. Kind of Watership Down meets Doc Watson. This lyric was co-written with Dale Boyle. This song came from a session with Rob Fahie on upright bass and Josh Zubot on violin, two celebrated players who have left Montreal to move to BC.
Hardest Thing of All
Finding yourself in a new life can really make you miss the old one. Another special acoustic guitar solo by Rob MacDonald. And Bob Stagg's Wurlitzer is like candy on top of the groove.
Believe in Something
As they say, happiness is wanting to be where you are. I wrote this as a fun live tune, and it is. This version features some sweet solos by Rob MacDonald on acoustic, Bob Stagg on Wurlitzer and Quebec legend Guy Bélanger on harmonica.
Inspired by Jack Kornfield's unforgettable line: Forgiveness means giving up hope of a better past. Here's to that! The lock-step groove of Mark Nelson and Andrew Horton on bass and drums holds this one down. I love the trade off between Rob MacDonald and Guy Belanger on dobro and harp at the end of the solo.
1. A Little Room 4:39
2. There’s No Way to Tell You that Tonight 3:44
3. Pumping Love 3:33
4. I Am the Blues 2:47
5. Whistling Past the Graveyard 3:18
6. Walk in the Dark 3:42
7. Spence 2:20
8. Rocky Mountain Time 3:40
9. Bigger 2:58
10. Rabbit 3:13
11. Hardest Thing of All 2:59
12. Believe in Something 3:15
13. Better Past 2:49
All songs by Rob Lutes except Rabbit and Whistling Past the Graveyard (by Rob Lutes and Dale Boyle),Walk in the Dark (by Rob Lutes and Monique Riedel) and Rocky Mountain Time by John Prine (Sour Grapes Music Inc.)
Rob Lutes • Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
Rob MacDonald • Electric, Resophonic and Acoustic Guitars
Mark Nelson • Drums and Percussion
Andrew Horton • Bass
Bob Stagg • Piano, Wurlitzer, Organ
Joe Grass • Mandolin
Guy Belanger • Harmonica
Josh Zubot • Violin on Rabbit
Rob Fahie • Bass on Rabbit
Josephine von Soukkonov • Backing vocals
Ian Kelly • Backing vocals on Whistling Past the Graveyard