I don’t have many rules, but one of them is that whenever Robert Bobby does a new record, I’ll review it. I can’t overstate how much I like some of his work. Most particularly Genuine Queen of Milwaukee.
10 or so years later, this is still one of my favorite songs. The line “you ought to see her Adam’s apple
, man dance” [Robert tells me I had that last word wrong] is one of the best ever put to music.
Enough about that. Just one day after Genuine Queen was among the first songs I added to my Turntable.fm listening room (look for a full review of Turntable.fm tomorrow), I got a review copy of Robert’s brand new record, with The Robert Bobby Trio. A Brief History of Time is available now at CD Baby. You can buy a CD or download MP3s immediately. And you should, because this is a really good record.
A Brief History of Time is not as country-ish as my favorite Robert Bobby songs, but it is full of good Americana and acoustic blues music. It has been described as “a perfect blend of singer-songwriter, folk, Americana & blues! Like John Prine only cheaper!” That’s not a bad description. A Brief History of Time, the title track, sounds like good Prine in his prime.
This record was recorded live in the studio, which gives it a more immediate sound, with some of the energy of a live performance. It’s all about the picking and playing. Bill Nork’s dobro and mandolin tracks are uniformly excellent. Robert’s guitar work is stellar and Robert’s wife, who plays a mean bass, demonstrates that Robert is not the only musician in the family.
Wild About My Loving would have fit right into a Townes Van Zandt & Guy Clark set list. Great guitar and mandolin. The Peace Song doesn’t tread any new ground lyrically, but again the guitar work is stellar. Ain’t No Way, a remake from an earlier record, is a fantastically wistful number.
Rocking My Baby Back Home picks up the tempo a little, with an acoustic rockabilly vibe. My favorite song on the record is Hearts Like Atoms Split, probably because it sounds the most like the older Robert Bobby songs I have listened to for years. When Strangers Start to Cry also has the country sound that I like so much.
I was prepared not to like One Meatball, based on the title, but it got me with a Stray Cats vibe, a good story and, I know I sound like a broken iPod, some excellent guitar work.
At the end of the day, I don’t like this record as much as I like some of Robert’s older stuff, such as Genuine Queen, Lucinda Williams (great tribute song to a great artist whose older work I also prefer) and The Best of All Possible Worlds, but that’s sort of like being critical of the Rolling Stones because every record isn’t Exile on Main Street.
Go buy this record. It’s highly recommended.