Roger Cline is an example of an artist whose passion for music was instilled at a young age. The country music that formed an essential part of his parent’s record collection offered him his initial inspiration, and eventually led his mother to buy him his first guitar. Although he was first attracted to rock and roll, bluegrass eventually took over his interests, and for the past 30 years or so, his passion has accelerated exponentially, culminating in his aptly named new album, So Inclined.
Still, it’s one thing to be an admirer, and quite another to be an artist who’s able to take those lessons and translate them in ways that reflect his or her own singular style. Clearly then, Cline is not only capable of evoking his influences, but also able to write songs and make music that resonate with memorable melodies and adroit execution. You Fell From the Sky and Why Do You Treat Him Like You Do set an upbeat tone early on, but by the time the third song of the set, Soul of a Soldier, rolls around, it becomes apparent that Cline’s craft also extends to an ability to share soul-stirring sentiments in the midst of the tender trappings. The instrumentals Easy Street and The Distant Shore become an ideal showcase for his supple fretwork, while two other songs, the cheery Come and Sit by the River and the lilting Flat River Girl, spotlight his skills on mandolin as well.
That said, Cline’s has an able supporting cast to accompany him, including an array of harmony singers and ace instrumentalists. That’s a positive reflection of both his savvy and skillset. When he turns the lead vocal on the quiet, caressing At the Journey’s End over to Jeannette Williams, there again, the album nods to a more touching tone. Cline matches those soothing sentiments with his own gentle read of the soothing Lover’s Moon, and the easy, ambling The Wind and the Waves.
Consequently, Cline’s established a personal protocol that ensures an emotional bond. His commitment to cause is obvious, but the fact he was able to solidify his stance so early on speaks to both his skill and savvy. It’s not only a fine first step, but also a major leap forward.