Rogers is a true storyteller. An old breed of country balladeer: gravel-voiced, finger-picking narrative songs that borrow from tall tales, lend a voice to the margins of society, mull on heartache. The twice-dead characters of “Once a Wife, Twice a Widow” are a particular fascination. Who wouldn’t smile at the Ron Perlman-esque interpretation of Odysseus, holding a lit cigar while he postures before the gods? The final verse centers his re-contextualized myths around the universal loneliness of the traveling musician: always leaving. I’m reminded of “Malibu Rum” from The Wooden Sky; what does home look like without you? Does your partner kill you in the mind, suffer your loss every time you go?
Rogers is a balladeer in full stride, leafing through lost stories, placing them into modern context, breathing new life into them through gritted teeth.