Roberts Brothers: Sugar and Spice

As the Roberts Bros., the non-family duo of saxophonist Jimmy Roberts and guitarist Peter Roberts offer competent, muscular play and some memorable melodies in mostly uninspired settings on the uneven Sugar & Spice (BDM Records; 51:17). Peter’s long-lined, chorus-toned guitar sweeps impressively through “Sooner or Later,” and “100 Miles and More,” only to be torpedoed by tinny keyboards (on the former) or weak discofied percussion programming (on the latter). Likewise, Jimmy boasts a high-stepping, stretch-note technique to ignite tunes like “Maybe,” and the sweetly cinematic “Forever Yours,” but the drum programs just lay there, rendering the emotional play somewhat false. When the guys use their electronica to their benefit, as on the stomping blow-out “Show Me What You Got,” it works-Jimmy’s sax high steps and Peter’s guitar work sears, tearing a ragged edge. “Who Knows” holds more promise, with a pulse groove lending an exotic quality, and giving Jimmy’s sax room to step out and swing with genuine soul. For the most part, these talented “brothers” just need to rely on each other’s musical skills, without worrying about so many needless layers and trappings.