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***** Beautiful Melodic Folk-Rock

I recently had the pleasure of discovering the music of Saturday's Radio through social media, which is something new for me as an avenue for hearing recording artists. As a result of this wonderful experience, not only I have ploughed forward into this brave new world and added to my music library with other bands and singers but I've had "The Truth Hurts" by Saturday's Radio playing on my iPod for the last week and a half, getting under my skin in the most pleasant of ways.

Rob Christensen sings with a distinct voice that blends so well with his guitar playing; there is lament when he sings about love gone badly that can be felt in his tone. This CD is rooted in the pain of a relationship lost and, much like Adele's "21", the result is a collection of melodic songs that keep you wanting to hit the replay button. The mood of often achingly wistful, and the songs stay with you after just a few listens. My favourite tracks are the ballads where Rob lays his soul bare and shares his heartache with the listener, like the beautifully sad "Kiss and Run" and the conflicted "You're Not the End of the World." The CD also has some upbeat, faster-tempo numbers, like "Free For All" and "Promises", which mixes it up nicely.

I would recommend this CD for anyone who loves listening to artists whose words evoke a time and place as much as their music does. It is a collection of beautiful folk-rock melodies that can be enjoyed either as an intensely personal listening experience or played in the background.

HSU Lumberjack

The Truth Hurts *** (out of four) Rob Christensen has a voice similiar to Cat Stevens and a style that is uniquely his own. His new album, The Truth Hurts, is an insightful journey through life in the eyes of the singer. The 29-year-old Eureka resident has written, recorded, and produced his 10-track album. "Somewhere Down The Road" is a moving piece about becoming oneself and getting through the difficulties of relationships. Christensen has written songs that metaphorically express feelings that arise during the ups and downs that relationships can cause. "Hey, what's your hurry? Don't leave me here lonely. The sun won't be shining until tomorrow morning," is just one of several meaningful lines that reflect Christensen's style. Christensen has taken several down-to-earth ideas and situations and turned them into feelings. The Truth Hurts is a great album, full of feelings and is perfect for those rainy days when it does not seem like the sun will ever shine again.

Demo Universe

Fred Cornog, Jim Shelley, Shelley Blake...now let Rob Christensen into the lonely-lo-fi-home-recording-guy club. He's that good. Christensen's weary, aching love songs have drawn comparison to R.E.M., which he acknowledges as an influence but adds Neil Young, the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Joni MItchell, Rolling Stones, Prince and Bob Mould to the list. August company to be sure (I'll toss in Dylan and Fred Neil for good measure), but they've all written worse songs than "September Knows." I vaguely recall having gotten Christensen's Smile Slightly tape but don't think I ever listened to it. A crying shame, but I'm glad to have this one.

Reviews By Ray

The promo material that was sent with this cassette said "think Automatic For The People crossed with Blood On The Tracks." Well, Christensen's phrasing is certainly reminiscent of Michael Stipe, but what I hear in these songs is the slow, hazy melancholy of folks like Mazzy Star. This is the first tape I've heard from Rob, and I definitely want to hear more. Often sung with little more than a guitar and a light snare drum for accompaniment, these songs are lonely, stark and haunting. "September Knows" and "Free For All" seep into your soul and sit there, like a bout of seasonal depression. Christensen's cracked, emotive vocals suit the songs' desperation perfectly. I don't know if this stuff is based on personal experience, but it sounds like there's some genuine emotional turmoil going on here. The Truth Hurts is more spellbinding, and more genuine, than any poseur currently wasting your time on the radio. Like the promo flyer says, "Summer is sad when August is over." Amen.

Gajoob

Rob Christensen delivers a solid album of searching electric/acoustic songs that cut to the bone of personal relationships. Christensen's sound combines folk rock, country, and a bit of blues that feels very, very from the heart, expressing clear emotions with a direct life-poetry. Fans of Dylan will certainly find another real artist here. Highly recommended. 

AUTOreverse

The Truth Hurts falls in that category between country, folk, and rock which sounds a little like each, but fits into none. The sound on the album recalls early American Music Club musically, flavored with Bob Dylan on such tracks as "Free For All." The lyrics stick to this obscure category as well; most of the songs deal with unrequited love mixed with anger and regret. The songs have a slow, lingering sound, which is almost a hindrance, as most of the tracks exceed four minutes. The result is an album which is exhausting at times. Unlike the aforementioned AMC, which provided variety in the form of musical experimentation and lyrical humor, there is no real respite from the slow songs with aching lyrics. An exception is the track "Promises," which picks up the tempo and may make the listener wish Christensen had supplied the album with more diversity. However, the songs that are there are good, and for fans of the co-fo-ro sound, it may be will worth trying.

Portland Online MusicNet

The Truth Hurts (released 1997) is Rob Christensen's second studio album and contains 10 original tunes. Christensen hails from Eureka, California and brings with him a very thoughtful, almost melancholy sound, laced with seemingly personal lyrics which at times is hauntingly familiar to Dylan (Blood On The Tracks- era) complete with harmonica breaks; at other times reminiscent of R.E.M. - particularly in his vocals. While not really HAPPY songs, they seem to be more along the lines of "introspective" and that theme carries through most of the album. Along with those comparisons comes the delightful story-telling aspects of those aspects which keep the listeners' attention throughout. One example is “September Knows” - apparently about his unrequited affections for a married woman and the feelings associated with it. In fact many of the tunes here seem to be inspired by hard-to-get type women and the effect they have on us....er..... some people. Basically simple tunes with deeply inspired vocals with an uncluttered, straightforward acoustic and electric backing music.

The Long Boat

Interview with Rob Christensen

The following interview was conducted by Toby Cook, leader of the Fortuna, CA band The Long Boat, back in 1997 when The Truth Hurts was originally released. 

Rob Christensen is a 29-year-old singer / home-recordist / songwriter / musician / whatever from Eureka, California. His new album, The Truth Hurts, is the follow-up to 1994’s critically acclaimed Smile Slightly. As with Smile Slightly, Christensen stayed solitary with The Truth Hurts, recording at home and playing all of the instruments. 

Toby Cook: What inspired the title "The Truth Hurts?"

Rob Christensen: I had all the songs written and mostly recorded and I needed a title. I had a "name this record" list going which included things like "The Eyes Have it," "The Scars To Prove It," and "Queen Monday." "The Truth Hurts" popped into my head and I went with it.

Toby: What about the cover photo?

Rob: The cover idea came right after the title. I'm meeting someone to go out, at her house, I've got flowers and a suit, and she's not there.

Toby: So the theme of this album would be?

Rob: Romantic rejection. Loss. It's not necessarily personal experiences, like "A Perfect Afternoon" is about a woman I know who left her husband, out of the blue, and moved out of state. It was pretty gutsy because they'd been married for like ten years. So that song came from somebody searching for something new.

Toby: Tell me about how you recorded this. Recording methods, instrumentation.

Rob: In the living room, by myself, with eight tracks. The idea on most of the songs was a four-piece band. Drums, bass, me on acoustic guitar and lead vocal, and a fourth guy doing something else. Like on "September Knows" there’s piano. On several songs there’s organ. On "A Perfect Afternoon" and "Sorry Again" there’s electric guitar. I tried to keep it to four main parts. But on "Somewhere Down The Road" and "Promises" there's more going on. And on "Listen" there's just me and my acoustic Guitar.

Toby: What made you tone down? Your previous tape was nosier and more electric. This one is more spacious.

Rob: After Smile Slightly I wanted to do a pure pop thing. But I was writing songs that came out sort of quiet and sad. I was doing solo acoustic shows so I guess I subconsciously wrote songs for that type of situation.

Toby: So why do you record by yourself?

Rob: I had a frustrating band experience a few years back with people who, if I had something in mind, would play just the opposite. I got a "Don't tell me how to play" vibe.

Toby: That's how it happens sometimes. You’ve got a vision and you bring people in - sometimes they're going to try to bring in their personal whatevers, their ideas of what it should be.

Rob: Yeah. It just became easier to do it myself. It's not like I'm anywhere near a great player or anything but I can teach myself to play the parts I hear in my head. I'll probably always record by myself because I really enjoy it. I'm always there when I need me.

Toby: Do you look forward to having a complete band if the right people come alone? Would it be just a live thing?

Rob: I definitely want a live band. I like the idea of other people contributing, but I also like the idea of being totally responsible for the finished product. Artistically and financially.

Toby: Where do you go from here?

Rob: Again, I do want to get a live band together. I’ve been playing with people who are good players, who are willing to take ideas and suggestions, and who have good instincts. It's going well. We'll see what gels. Three-piece, four-piece, five-piece, whatever. I want to be a full time musician. I want to tour. I want to have more time for practice and writing. I want to keep making records on my label, Sweet Science. Keep going on an independent level Right now I’m working on a new tape and I’ve got a side-project going with Xeff Scolari from Chowderhead. We're writing songs and may put something out.

Toby: How did you get started doing music?

Rob: Right after high school I was helping to house-sit for a guy who had an incredible record collection. Hundreds, if not thousands, of records. Anything I ever wanted to hear, he had. So that was it. I had to do it for myself. I started buying records immediately and bought magazines to read about musicians. After awhile I decided that I wanted to write and play. So at age twenty I bought a guitar and two years later a PortaStudio. I started doing simple demos with a portable keyboard acting as drums and bass, figuring that I would get a band to flesh them out. I haven't found a band but I got better at recording and arranging, got better equipment, and in 1994 put out Smile Slightly and now I'm releasing The Truth Hurts.

Toby: Who are your big influences?

Rob: I had a friend take both tapes on a trip. She played them for her brother, whose response was "He listens to a lot of R.E.M., doesn't he?" So I guess that's there, I listen to a lot of music. Neil young, Beatles, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Rolling Stones, Prince (The Artist), Bob Mould.

Toby: Is there anyone who you'd like to emulate, not just in musical style, but who has made a good blueprint for your career plans?

Rob: I think there's something to be learned from everyone, including what not to do. Phish has developed a huge following doing it their way. East River Pipe has been able to make records at home and get them out to the world. I'd like to be able to do that. Ani DiFranco has done a fantastic job of working hard to reach people and they have responded. I'm inspired by anyone who has blazed their own trail rather having that "I’ve got to get signed" mentality. You've got to do it for yourself.