Bob Bradshaw review…September 11, 2017…

BOB BRADSHAW

AMERICAN ECHOES

FLUKE RECORDS 2017

EXOTIC DANCERS WANTED–MEET ME–CALL IT WHAT YOU WILL–THE ASSUMPTIONS WE MAKE–WORKIN ON MY PROTEST SONG–A BIRD NEVER FLEW ON JUST ONE WING–WEIGHT OF THE WORLD–STELLA–MY DOUBLE AND I–MATERIAL FOR THE BLUES–O BROTHER–OLD SOLDIERS

Irish-born Bob Bradshaw has been a Boston resident since 2003, but, he’s been everywhere, man, busking on the streets of Europe, as well as NYC and Frisco before finally settling in Massachusetts.  Obviously, he’s seen a lot, and, thru his studies at Berklee, he’s honed his songwriting to make his characters people that we can all relate to.  This is especially true on his seventh studio album, “American Echoes,” for Fluke Records.  This all-original album combines his passion for folk, blues, and bluegrass with that innate ability to tell a cool story in five minutes’ time.

His characters are all of us–hopeless dreamers, lovers, saints, and sinners, and everyone in between.  “Meet Me” name-checks many NYC landmarks and turns them into places for a romantic rendezvous, for “anyplace, anytime, I’ll be there!”  The denizens of The Keystone Bar And Grill offer up the sage advice, over a few pints, that “a cup of tea won’t make you sing, and A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing.”  “Stella” is a story of true love between aging lovers set to waltz time, while the set closes on a “marching beat,”  with the story of the bravery and chivalry of Civil War soldiers, “Old Soldiers never die–they just fade away.”  This one has fiddle from Chad Manning and banjo from Andy Santospago, and the traditional instruments add to the ambience of this cut.

We had two favorites, too.  The set starts with “Exotic Dancers Wanted,” and you can almost see the grainy, black-and-white film noir of the ladies and their clientele,  as the longer they ply their trade, the more they become unable to “tell the dancers from the dance.”  And, a tongue-in-cheek nod to Dylan and the Sixties finds Bob ducking “mushroom clouds” and “tommy guns,” all the while “Workin’ On My Protest Song!”   This one has a rich, Garcia-era Dead vibe, set over a quirky time pattern that woulda been right at home during the folk boom.

On “American Echoes,” Bob Bradshaw comes full-circle.  These songs trace the history of the music that first inspired Bob, and evolve into the layered arrangements he studied at Berklee.  This is indeed an aural treat!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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