There is something that doesn’t quite fit into modern times about Bob Bradshaw’s music…but, perhaps that is what makes it most perfect for modern day roots music. Bradshaw’s voice has a smooth, refined richness to its tone. It feels so familiar, but at the same time I have difficult times drawing comparisons to it. His songs are pensive and well though stories that contain deep and introspective views into the writer’s past. Perhaps the fact that Bradshaw looks back, as well as forward, is the key to what makes him an accomplished and engaging talent. A timeless quality that just simply stands out.
“Whatever You Wanted” displays the songwriter stretching the boundaries of what you can put into a single record and have it considered one genre. The band that Bradshaw has chosen for this album is fantastic. There are hints of traditional folk songwriting, blues, rock n’ roll and country as the stories he spins are unfolded over a highway of sounds ranging from dirty blues guitar on ‘Losing You’ to the dark Americana vibes he pours out on “The Start of Nothin’”, dotted with carefully picked acoustic guitar parts and the drone of the expertly places notes of the electric ringing underneath the commentary.
I was a young boy running / my shoes a blur
I had something to tell you / Didn’t know where you were
In ‘The Start of Nothin’ he manages to paint a portrait of a past relationship with simple phrasings that accumulate to tell a full story of a character running from something, inexplicably, but continuing on anyway. Each note of the picked acoustic is engaging, a flurry of notes that fit perfectly. Guitarist Duke Levine’s work on the track is like the glue that pulls everything together, long ringing notes and a solo that isn’t overly extravagant but fits the song absolutely brilliantly. Again, Bradshaw’s warm and mellow voice is the star of the show and one that I will never tire of listening to over and over again.
Personal favorite track from the record is the haunting and reverberating “Crazy Heart”. Like a basin filled with thoughts that plague the mind and heart of a man, but all the while reflecting on the things that make him who he is. Mistakes or triumphs. It has a very sepia tinged, empty barroom feel. It could have been the opening credits for the True Detective season 1 credits…just really something else. It takes me to a place and washes over me with the whole aesthetic of the tune. That is something special, an experience to listen to.
Bradshaw may just have one of the finest voices in modern day Americana music. It seems effortless but is always strong and seamless. His latest record further cements this songwriter as a talent within the Boston community and beyond and puts his keen ear for a great, catchy hook and clean, pleasing arrangements on full display.