Some albums are meant to instill deeper meaning. Others offer entertainment. In Roger Cline’s case, he shares both. That’s evident on his new album, Stories of Valor, a set of songs that give praise to the bravery, courage, grit, and tenacity of those that put their lives on the line, whether in service to their country, their communities, or their families.
Cline came of age as a traditionalist, one who was weened on the country and western music that he heard at home. Now known as an astute singer, guitarist, and songwriter — he was responsible for penning all or part of nine out of ten songs on this new offering — he’s created an album that’s certainly capable of bringing him wider recognition.
That deeper depth of devotion aside, it boasts a varied palette that runs the gamut from its various upbeat, engaging melodies (Endless Fields, Call of Duty), to a series of sprightly set-ups (Hold On, the instrumental Saturday Shuffle) and any number of tunes that fall in-between. So too, he taps some familiar touchstones — the spiritual sentiment shared through the album’s sole cover, Crown of Thorns, and his own The Revelatory, the determination echoed in Shepherd, the gentle sway and sashay of the title track along with the quiet and contemplative Long Time Gone From Brooklyn, the latter a duet that features harmony vocals from Jeanette Williams. A capable group of backing musicians lend their support — Debbie Durant and Tom Hensler playing bass, Scott Freeman on mandolin, Gary Huffman on dobro, John Scott Walker on banjo, Nikki Wright playing fiddle, Denis Hertzog contributing viola, Stephanie Powell playing percussion, and a veritable choir quotient of singers providing backing vocalists sharing the singing — fleshing out the arrangements with the feeling and finesse they deserve.
Ultimately, Stories of Valor is as inspired as its name implies, a set of songs that resonate with meaningful messages, articulate expression and stirring sentiment. It begs attention for all the right reasons, and resonates remarkably as a result. Cline deserves credit for sharing both the music and the meaning.