It’s an indication just how stark Luke Roberts’ first album was that he contrasts it with the follow-up by saying, “this new one is filled with addresses and luxuries.” Which is probably fair enough, given that Roberts didn’t even own a guitar when he made the first one.
All the same, “The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport” is hardly luxurious. It’s mournful and spare, full of haunting, deeply personal songs that Roberts sings in a voice that falls somewhere between the dusty twang of Townes Van Zandt and Jay Farrar’s dry murmur.
Roberts is giving away the desolate and riveting “His Song,” a minimalist country-folk tune, though not as minimal as it could be: there’s bass, arid piano, skeletal drums, a low keening fiddle and even a harmony vocal from Emily Sunblad.
“The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport” is due March 20 on Thrill Jockey.