For some artists, the coronavirus pandemic presented an opportunity to stock up on new material; for others, it inspired reflection and reinvention. In Roxy Roca’s case, the time off the road provided a chance to recalibrate and set off on a new genre focus: Instead of continuing to create James Brown-inspired soul and funk music, the Austin, Texas-based group decided to pursue a sound more in line with their blues and rock influences.
The first major Roxy Roca project to result from this direction shift is Greasy, an album that was recorded in the summer of 2022 at Houston’s Edgewater Studios and released on November 3. The nine tracks on the tight, 35-minute album speed by, though the album as a whole is packaged in a way that places its one real ballad near the center, striking a nice balance with its heavier rock songs.
Greasy kicks off with “Yazoo Queen,” the album’s first single that premiered exclusively on Blues Rock Review earlier this year. The band—which is comprised of lead singer Taye Cannon, drummer Ryan Greenblatt, guitarist Babis “BB” Tyropolous and bassist Quinn Walls, with Adam Pryor joining the band for Greasy on keys—sets a heavy rock tone on “Yazoo Queen,” telling listeners right from the start that they’re on to something new. According to Roxy Roca, the song represents a blend of who they were and who they’re trying to become, with the lyrics coming from ideas jotted down while they were on tour in 2017 and the newly-added music serving as a reflection of the style they’re embracing now.
Greasy’s second track and second single, “The Nomad,” takes a darker turn both lyrically and musically. While some of the lyrics have a humorous lilt—“He quit school ’cause of recess / Honey, he don’t play”—the underlying message issues a warning about a person who can’t be trusted: “With a walk like the devil and eyes like the stars / The nomad is off to the next waiting bar / And he bad.”
The mood picks up again on “Lost & Lonely,” a smooth rock track that finds Cannon singing about a person’s search for a fitting romantic match. “Muscadine Wine” follows as Greasy’s lone ballad, a delicate track with bluesy guitar undertones and gospel-styled keys that hover beneath Cannon’s reaching vocals. The tone of “Muscadine Wine” stands alone on the album but is a beautiful addition, returning the album to a state of calm before Roxy Roca dive into the rolling rhythms on the two upbeat and rock-leaning tracks that follow, “Life Is Grand” and “Take Me Back.”
Roxy Roca dip back into the blues on “Your Love,” a track that starts by spotlighting Tyropolous on guitar. It returns to a squealing riff before giving Tyropolous room to solo near the song’s halfway point. The final two songs on Greasy show Roxy Roca returning to their rock focus, with “Stay on the Grind” serving as a bouncy dose of encouragement to stay determined during tough times. “Mean Old World” meanwhile finds Cannon reiterating a message to stay tough even though “it’s a mean, mean old world” as his bandmates match his driving pace, giving the album a powerful ending.
Roxy Roca have described this new album as a “reset button” as they decide how to move their album forward. Given the power and excitement that fill Greasy’s nine tracks, it will be exciting to see what this band does next.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Yazoo Queen
– Muscadine Wine
– Life Is Grand
– Your Love
The Big Hit
– Your Love
Buy the album: Amazon