Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Traditionalist with an edge, young British singer/songwriter Bobby Long releases his new album next week and makes his Iron Horse debut on Monday, 2/28 at 7PM

Bobby Long, who opened for Michael Franti and Spearhead this past summer at the Calvin Theatre, makes his Iron Horse debut on Tuesday, March 1st at 7PM with support from Sun Parade. Tickets are available at Northampton Box Office, 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.

Bobby Long believes in making up for lost time. The young British singer-songwriter didn't even start to play guitar until he was 17, but from then on he's been creating memorable songs inhabited by hauntingly poetic lyrics. With model good looks and an engaging smile, he is a formidable presence even before he begins to sing. And when he does sing, it's with a heart-wrenching soulfulness that crushes any chance for apathy. It's a voice that simply demands attention. Now armed with an enviable repertoire of material and a legion of loyal fans cultivated through non-stop touring, this force of nature will be impossible to ignore.

Born in Northern England, Bobby Long at 18 moved to London to attend university and quickly established himself on the local open mic circuit, finding his voice and beginning to develop songs characterized by catchy melodies paired with elusive, imaginative lyrics. In London he met a circle of fellow musicians, among them Marcus Foster, with whom he wrote a song called "Let Me Sign," and soon-to-be megastar Robert Pattinson, who would sing it in the 2008 blockbuster film Twilight.

That coup gave him a head start on a fan base, but as an indie performer, he knew he would have to take the reins of his own destiny. So he recorded an acoustic CD, Dirty Pond Songs, in his bedroom, and set off for America in April 2009. As what became known as the Dangerous Summer Tour continued for months, he sold thousands of copies of Dirty Pond Songs on the road as well as two self-released live CDs. All have been available only at his shows. 

This Tuesday, February 2nd 2011 sees the release of his debut studio album, A WINTER TALE (on Dave Matthews  ATO Records) on which he wanted to capture the immediacy of those live performances, "to have flaws in it, some signs of human nature." It was produced by Grammy-winner Liam Watson (The White Stripes' Elephant) at his analog Toe Rag Studios in London.

Impressing a widening circle of admirers, including many critics, Bobby has packed venues across the United States, Canada and Europe. In 2009, he played 160 shows in seven months in seven countries. The Boston Herald praised his "likeable, rough-hewn voice" and "catchy way with a chorus," while Pollstar reported that he "continues to amaze audiences with a bare-bones sound reminiscent of early Bob Dylan." Radio, too, has done its part, beginning when WXPN in Philadelphia added "Who Have You Been Loving" from Dirty Pond Songs to its playlist and invited him to perform live in their studios. His 2010 tour schedule kicked off in March with a live WXPN Free at Noon session, which was broadcast nationally on NPR's World Cafe Live while he was still unsigned.

He cites Dylan's career, as well as his songwriting, as a major influence. He also lists Richie Havens, Neil Young, Tim Buckley and Leonard Cohen as influences, along with more modern troubadours like Elliott Smith and Conor Oberst. A love of American roots music shines through his songs, evident on the album in the intense minor-key folk of "Penance Fire Blues," the two-step groove of "Two Years Old" and the old-timey waltz "Being a Mockingbird" with its banjo and pedal steel accents. And Bobby is no dilettante when it comes to traditional sounds--his university thesis was on the social impact of American folk music.

 "In London there's a big folk scene happening," he says. "It resonates with a lot of young people now." Yet lurking in his background is a broader musical sensibility that encompasses the guitar-tinged blues of Mississippi John Hurt, the knowing song craft of the Beatles and the Kinks, and even flashes of the angry heat of another band he admires greatly--Black Sabbath.

Above all, it's the honesty and aching vulnerability in his intricate songs (not to mention his shy demeanor on stage) that endears Long to burgeoning audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. "He breathes a labyrinth of imagery that is so fragile and heartrending--it's impossible to let go" declared one writer, and as another one put it, "If music is truly a form of self-expression, then British singer-songwriter Bobby Long apparently cannot tell a lie."

A WINTER TALE merges band power with acoustic rawness, featuring Nona Hendryx on backing vocals on "Penance Fire Blues," B. J. Cole (Elton John, Sting) on pedal steel, Icelandic singer Lay Low on several tracks, and other top-drawer musicians. And by way of continued extensive touring in North America, he will be bringing A WINTER TALE and what has been called his "tapestry of tales" to the ever-growing audiences seduced by his compelling voice, musicianship and charm.
Bobby Long, who opened for Michael Franti and Spearhead this past summer at the Calvin Theatre, makes his Iron Horse debut on Tuesday, March 1st at 7PM with support from Sun Parade. Tickets are available at Northampton Box Office, 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Phenomenal article. Everyone should know Bobby Long and everyone should see him live. I'm excited for the album release, but He was BORN for the live stage like no one I have ever seen before. Bobby oozes excellence.