If you throw a rock and you don’t hit a Starbucks, you’ve probably knocked a musician out cold. Guitar slingers are a dime a dozen these days, but quality tunes are scarce. Viral videos and auto tune have taken rock n’ roll hostage, Facebook fans are more important than real fans, and virtual ‘likes’ carry more weight than a modern track that cuts deep. But hope remains for the future of music. L.A.‘s own Steven Roth is knocking on your door, and whether or not you’re listening, you will hear him.
After enjoying relative success with the pop rock ‘Redstone Hall’, including a gig in support of Audioslave and recording sessions with Devo’s Gerry Casale, Roth decided to go it alone, handpicking his crew to back his new musical endeavor. Roth’s solo debut, the long awaited “Let It In”, infuses classy savoir faire into vibrant rock. The resulting sounds are dynamic and diverse, and a clear reflection of Roth himself. A singer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist, Roth is a vessel of musical knowledge and abilities, having paid homage to the heroes of the Rock n’ Roll timeline. With roots in the classics and an eye on innovation, Roth’s sound can best be described as a refreshing flavor of pop-rock soul, filled with melody, mood, energy, and honesty. Roth’s musical approach is entirely organic, and it’s this sense of purity that sets Roth apart. While most of his contemporaries are transfixed by over-production and creating a facade of perfection, Roth strives for ‘the real’ on all accords. In Roth’s world, auto-tune is blasphemy.
His approach likens his sound to the late 60’s rock wave of raw emotion and organic experimentation, but Roth adds a sharp edge of his own, making fresh incisions at will. This mash of honest and original movement can be heart throughout, but on the standout track, "Last Song", a tune with vintage overtones but a modern singalong vibe, the blend is impeccable: Drums build alongside a sunny guitar riff and Roth’s resounding piano, but it’s his confessional-style vocal that takes center stage. Roth sings with the soul and passion of a ‘down on his luck’ blues crooner. His chops are soothing and tender, though the frontman will occasionally unleash his inner angry McCartney, belting out a throaty rock growl to rev your juices. The vocal shift is fitting, especially since the song, which Roth explains is "about a relationship that went on longer than it should have,” reflects an outpouring of emotions.
As quickly as he shape-shifts from swooner to snake, Roth traverses genre, incorporating seemingly everything he’s learned and loved about music. It’s this uncanny ability to blend sounds and styles that makes each song entirely unique. There’s rock and there’s blues, and then, there's a little funk and a lot of soul, like on the elegantly infectious "Make You Love Me.” As for the title track, “Let It In” is a poetic and pensive tale of longing rapt in country honesty. Peppered with pedal steel, Roth even invokes that down-home-south and rather clearly defined country love lyrical, admitting the song "is about that push and pull you experience when you're interested in someone."
To make the album, Roth embarked on a creative pilgrimage to Nashville, where he began carving out the songs that would eventually become “Let It In.” Teaming up with renowned producer Dave Cobb [Secret Sisters, Shooter Jennings] and Grammy Award-nominated mixer Leslie Chew, Roth recorded the album over the course of three weeklong sessions.
It’s nothing strange that Roth made quick work of the studio. After all, he built his own recording studio in his Southern California home, where he produces and writes daily. His studio is just another extension of Roth himself. His life is music through and through, and it only makes sense that he rests his head just feet from a wall of sound. When he’s not writing at home, he’s writing alongside his guitar hero friends and customers at Westwood Music, a mom and pop guitar shop in West Los Angeles that Roth co-owns.
Roth’s personal connection to music is as pure and inspirational as ever. "I want people to feel where I was when I wrote the songs and connect on an emotional level beyond the superficial,” he explains. But it’s not enough for Roth to create: he yearns to connect, and his live show is a testament to this desire. His frontman persona stirs images of Morrison, Jagger, and the rest of the captivating icons of crowd chemistry, but of course, in typical Roth-style, his own personal flare and unmatched energy are always evident and nothing short of captivating. There’s a reason Roth has had the honor of opening for legends such as Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey. It’s this same reason why Roth’s following is swelling atypically fast and his recent L.A. shows have been packed to ‘sweaty capacity’. Roth is a rare breed in entertainment. He appreciates and loves music too much to let us down, and it’s his dedication and uncanny abilities that make ‘Let It In’ worth listening to.