Lexie Roth and her dad Arlen. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Lexie Roth and her dad Arlen played for the Rhode Island School of Design student art opening at Abode in Oak Bluffs last weekend. Photo by Ralph Stewart

Family talent on the record

By Julian Wise - September 7, 2006

New CDs from Arlen and Lexie Roth showcase the remarkable streak of intergenerational talent that runs through this family. Father Arlen ("Landscape") and daughter Lexie ("One Long Blink") have both crafted unique discs that showcase each musician's distinct talent. One album is an instrumental release from one of the greats of the guitar world, while the other is a strong debut disc from an emerging artist.

Russel Hodson, 20, enjoys a relaxing day off from his landscaping job, which he plans on sticking with next year.

Over the past three decades, Arlen Roth has earned a reputation as one of the finest guitar players in the business. In addition to touring with John Prine and Simon and Garfunkel, he has recorded with Pheobe Snow, Janis Ian, Don McClean, Marion Williams, and others. On "Landscape," his virtuosity is on full display. The disc opens with the title track, a moody, pensive electric guitar piece that features a lighting fast melodic run at the bass register of the guitar. "Hey AR" is a sizzling piece of rockabilly groove that demonstrates Mr. Roth's mastery of the Telecaster. Mr. Roth puts his unique stamp on the classic "Shenandoah," blending acoustic and electric notes together into a seamless whole. Versions of Pat Ballard's "Mister Sandman" and the vintage gems "Town Without Pity" and "House of the Rising Sun" show Mr. Roth's ability to imbue a classic with his unique creative touch. "Upstate Rag" is a stomping barnyard country number delivered at a blazing pace, while "Blues Under the Microscope" and "February" display Mr. Roth's ability to weave blues riffs and melodies together with finesse.

Mr. Roth's "Landscape" is a virtual master class exhibition for the electric guitar and a compelling document of his enduring creative pulse.

Lexie Roth's "One Long Blink" showcases a young singer-songwriter with a strong sense of lyrical and vocal prowess. On the opening track "Waking Up," Ms. Roth sings with strength and clarity as she writes, "The only way I can talk to you is through this song, I don't know if you'll hear me, pour out my waning love, waning love."

Sarah Mayhew holds a bluefish caught by hand. Photo by Teri Mello

The title track "One Long Blink" is a pensive meditation on loss, while "Angry River," written by her father Arlen, is a moody blues/folk number where she sings, "In the daytime I wait for the sun to set, in the nighttime I wait for it to rise." The disc includes skillful renditions of James Taylor's "You Can Close Your Eyes" and Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover," but it's on her original tracks that Ms. Roth makes her mark. "Flashing" includes a fuzzed out electric guitar sound, demonstrating that Ms. Roth can alternate between acoustic and electric tones with ease. The disc benefits from excellent musicianship by the late violinist Mindy Jostyn, drummer Shannon Ford, pianist Alex Salzman, bassist Paul Ossala, and Ms. Roth's father. Ultimately, its finest asset is Ms. Roth's voice, a rich, melodic force that promises a bright future for this emerging artist.

Julian Wise is a frequent contributor to The Times, specializing in music, film, and the performing arts.