It was hard for me to listen to the new Bob Kendall CD without hearing everyone but Bob Kendall. The production is a little bit all over the place and there are some tricks and licks I know were not intentionally copped from other people’s work.
Initially I could not break from hearing Beatles-esque production throughout. Especially on “Dazed” and “Stay” with vocal screams similar to those on “Revolution.” Then there was “Long Roads” with an opening reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt’s cut of “Nobody’s Girl.”
But then I just had to stop myself from going down that road with this body of work. Clearly this guy knows how to throw together lyrics and melody and make some great original music that stays with you.
With “Stay” he has a new twist on the near-break-up song with lines like, “You’re never going to have to compromise if you don’t stay.” “Long Road” has lots of nice long guitar runs, and touches upon the expansiveness of life itself and how sometimes just coming home is a comfortable way to deal with it all.
On “New Day,” Bob has a vocal quiver that reminds me a bit of John Hiatt. It works for this number. “New Day” is a bit of a plea for a friend, or lover, to not give up and roll that bad stretch of luck into a hopeful new day.
“WAISTD” runs a bit too long with a lost soul trying to get a grip on reality. But the pain and confusing stretch of this number that’s over 5 minutes long could be clearly intentional, intensifying this songwriter’s night ride.
If buying just one single from this collection, this writer would choose “Rage.” It is the most heartfelt, enduring relationship tune I have heard in a while. It has a nice production with neatly dropped cymbal crashes and soft keys to building waves of emotional tension. “Into the ocean, if all my rage slipped into the wrong hands, into the wrong hands, would we lose our way.”
The holidays can be painful, but there is nothing worse than grinning and bearing one’s painful way through them. “Holiday” reminds us that being with that special someone, even if things aren’t going well, might just be the only gift we need until the thaw.
I’m not sure what is really going on in “Pall Mall Days,” but I like the tune and maybe you and I really do not need to know and should just listen to this one.
The most acoustic tune on the album is “You Can’t Have Everything.” If this is what he sounds like solo acoustic, I think we should all seek him out and give a listen. It is his voice, rather raw and up front, that opens this careful-what-you-wish-for number, “You can’t have everything, cause you just want more, careful what you’re asking for, cause it might be yours.”
The collection ends with what appears to be a ghost track – “Wind.” A plane flying overhead, a church organ and tenor vocalist singing a la Sunday service style. Curious for sure.
I think Bob Kendall’s work is well worth its place in one’s collection. If you are not convinced by this reviewer’s take, give a listen to him yourself on November 22 at the Commonfence Point in Little Compton. Learn more about Bob by visiting bobkendall.com