Kenny Roby discusses his inspirations & his upcoming self-titled LP

Post Author: Myles Hunt

The NY-based folk singer-songwriter’s new album arrives on Friday

Stay cool is the message many are reciting to themselves as the season reaches its hot peak. Listeners are forced to hibernate in their cool air conditioned rooms and blare their summer comfort songs. For those seeking a folk-rock gospel blend, look no further than with Kenny Roby. His carefree message and emphatic glimmer of hope is ripe for a record spin with his new single “New Day” from his upcoming self-titled album set to be released on August 5th via Royal Potato Family.

“New Day” is a soft song that reverberates with a somber pulse. Kenny’s vocals are fueled by a chorus of harmonies that are somber yet beckon the listener to open their ears to the wisdom being bestowed. Ponderous beauty is what would best summarize this song. Kenny’s guitar plucks paired with his voice only further solidify the power behind it. Its path is clearly laid out, but offers fans a possibility of exploring their own or fresh paths that bring about unique perspectives. Go get lost.

To date, Kenny Roby’s summer has taken off in a well-balanced path, and he gave some insight through it all.

What has your summer been like? Have there been any specific memorable moments that you’d like to share?

I’ve traveled a little. I was down in NC for a little while with a family member recovering from surgery. I just got back from a long weekend up in Maine. I live in Woodstock, NY so it isn’t too far of a trip to do in four days. It was my first time in Acadia National Park and Deer Isle, which were beautiful. It was nice to be in the woods camping and away from it all. And see a different part of the Atlantic Ocean. I’m from South Carolina and North Carolina. The coast is much different there. I do miss those beaches. I hit the road this week to tour for my new record which comes out August 5th. I didn’t get to tour for my last record due to Covid lockdown so I’m glad to get to go out again. 

With all of the hype over music being included in various forms of entertainment, is there a movie/show that you would love to have your work featured in?

There are a few songs of mine from various albums that I think would fit dark western films… or films based on Cormac McCarthy and similar writers… I have other songs that would work in a variety of movies or shows. It’s a cool thing to have a song or performance in a film. It’s been a while for me. 

How has this new body of work shaped your life to date? Are there shared themes that seem to keep popping up and why?

Hard to say. It shapes you and you shape it. I do learn a good bit from the process of writing and making a new album or song. The human condition and struggle, redemption, addiction, recovery, loss, death and rebirth, relationships, optimism and cynicism as well… all seem to be recurring themes with me and the characters in the songs. Sometimes with a heaviness and sometimes with some humor and laughing at the whole thing. You can’t take it or yourself too seriously. And yet it is serious business at the same time. 

What visual art keeps Kenny Roby ready and inspired and why?

I tend to be inspired by my friends who are visual artists. It always amazes me to see and hear how it was created, the process. I don’t even necessarily have to dig the actual piece. In that way, I can watch documentaries on any type of artist and learn so much about what it means to be an artist and what goes into their art, regardless of if I am a fan… I watch documentaries on writers, musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, comedians and other various types of artists and always take away jewels from it. Of course, many times the actual piece of art inspires me to do my own writing and creating, especially music, film and reading fiction, poetry or some spiritual writers and philosophers. 

What are your goals for the rest of the season and beyond?

Just to keep touring for the rest of the summer and fall and into the new year and try to avoid getting Covid or giving it to anyone else. Hopefully, then start working on a new album or some other form of music in 2023. It’s hard to say what might be around the corner artistically. Hopefully, [I can] get out into the woods and the mountains a little more as well. Physicality and artistically maybe too. Gotta get lost sometimes. My dad used to say, “it ain’t a real adventure unless you get lost at some point.”

Kenny had this to say regarding New Day:

“This song was originally written in 2004 and released on my 2006 record ‘The Mercy Filter’. I decided to cut it again on this record with a different feel, arrangement and with some changes in the melody. Amy Helm came in and added gospel flavored vocals which lifts up the choruses beautifully. This song still resonates with me after all these years. New beginnings [with a] rebirth of mind and spirit. It’s never too late to start over and try things a different way.” New Day features Roby’s band; guitarist Dan Littleton, bassist Jeff Hill and drummer Tony Leone with Amy Helm on vocals and on harmonica, John Sebastian.