Kenny Roby’s first album in seven years is one of 2013’s best. Roby is philosophical when considering his place in the musical food chain. His big break in the ’90s came when his rootsy Americana band Six String Drag joined Steve Earle’s newly formed E-Squared label, but SSD released just one album with Earle before dissolving.
Roby’s subsequent solo career has been littered with brilliance (1999’s Mercury’s Blues, 2002’s Rather Not Know, 2006’s The Mercy Filter) and recognized by critics and diehard fans, but largely ignored commercially. With the release of Memories & Birds, his first new album in almost seven years, Roby is trying to shape set lists that will hopefully assimilate his broad creative range.
Roby performs 9 p.m. Friday at Newport’s Southgate House Revival with Mark Utley. $8-$10. southgatehouse.com.