Alan Trajan's sole album is in one sense very of its time, with the kind of organ/piano/hard rock guitar arrangements in vogue among numerous British artists in the late '60s. In another and perhaps more interesting sense, it's fairly peculiar, if only because it's difficult to imagine that such a downbeat album would have been thought by anyone to have stood much chance of being a success. Not that it sounds all that depressing or inaccessible, as Trajan has a slightly gruff and gravelly voice that's a little similar to those of Stevie Winwood and Gary Brooker, if somewhat strangled and not nearly as good (though of course not many singers were as good as that pair). As a songwriter, however, Trajan seems to have a quarter-glass-full worldview, projecting a kind of resigned, weary despair -- almost as if Procol Harum had been fronted by someone like Tom Waits (or early Randy Newman at his darkest). Even some of the song titles -- "One Tends to Get Bitter Now and Again," "Mental Destruction," "This Might Be My Last Number" -- reflect a man not keen to look on the bright side. For all that, though, the songs are fairly placid and attractive in their melodies and delivery, creating an interesting if strange tension. As light relief, perhaps, there's a relatively light cover of Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" and two folk songs based on the interpretations Dylan gave them on his first two albums ("Highway 51 Blues" and "Corinna, Corinna"). On the other hand, the sole other cover, of David Ackles' "Down River," fits about as perfectly into Trajan's troubled, doom-clouded persona as anything he didn't write himself. So rare that even many '60s rock collectors had never heard of it, Firm Roots was reissued on CD in 2006. AMG.