Albums where every track is of estimable quality, with no filler don’t come along too often, but American Echoes more than satisfies these enjoyment criteria.
On this, his seventh studio album, Bob Bradshaw corrals together the diverse human experiences of misfits and everyday blue-collar protagonists, well-crafted insightful lyrics and memorable melodies, entirely from the mere eleven notes available to him. All the while, he demonstrates that he has mastered the songwriter’s art of narrating personal, or imagined personal dramas that resonate with recognisable universal experience.
We share his tale of a reluctant but resourceful entertainer and her detachment from the sleazy clientele, in ‘Exotic Dancers Wanted’, and experience the finely-tooled radio-friendly pop of 'Meet Me’ and 'The Assumptions We Make'. And whilst there is thoughtful minor key brooding in 'Call It What You Will', Bradshaw’s wry sentiment comes to the fore in 'Material For The Blues', ‘My Double And I’ and 'Workin' On My Protest Song’, the latter’s swinging chorus an infectious sing-along.
And if the earworm ‘Oh Brother’ and waltz-time ‘Stella’ aren’t written from personal experience, Bradshaw has the well-developed dramatic gift of making the listener believe that they most definitely are.
There’s a deliberate spaciousness about the recording, Bradshaw’s own production allowing the songs the air needed to be heard with welcome clarity. A word of praise too for his studio band. Little flourishes like Andy Santspago’s baritone guitar on 'The Assumptions We Make', and understated rock out as 'Workin' On My Protest Song’ concludes, add depth and flavour, as does James Rohr’s perfectly-structured and executed piano coda as ‘Call It What You Will’ edges to its glorious fade.
Contemporary troubadours such as Tom Russell, Ben Rogers and Nathan Bell excel in the creation and performance of such narratives, and the recorded legacy of the great Greg Trooper comforts us that we lived in his time. Bob Bradshaw deserves to be mentioned in that company.
Date added: Oct 12, 2017
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