Before you listen, you might think the most interesting thing going on here is Roll's collaboration with authors Denis Johnson ("Jesus' Son") and Rick Moody ("The Ice Storm"). Johnson wrote the lyrics for five songs here, and Moody penned three, while Roll wrote all the music.
But spin this disc once and you'll know Roll, who also wrote five songs on his own, is, indeed, the king of this Ball. Moody and Johnson each contribute at leastone standout track. Moody's "Blue Guitar" (which sounds sort of like The Jayhawks' "Miss Williams Guitar") and Johnson's "You" and "Heartache Song" are all fine songs, but Roll's way of wrapping his world-weary voice around songs and willingness to experiment with sound as he did on his last release, "Lunette," keepit rolling. In fact, the Ann Arbor, Mich., resident's own songs are easily superior. "Eddie Rode the Orphan Train" (based on the real life story of Edward Vonderheide) and the freewheeling "Bonnie and Clyde" show Roll to be a powerful writer in his own right.