Review Summary: A large dose of squandered potential.
It’s hard to tell what made me look into Bobby Long in the first place. In print, he tended to come across as a small time singer/songwriter who did things fairly by the books. Unfortunately, after several spins of his most recent offering Wishbone
, that opinion hasn’t changed in the slightest. It’s a pretty obvious problem when it comes down to it, in a style as played out and ran into the ground as his folk-rock inclinations are, it takes a good amount of originality and new ideas to set yourself apart from various contemporaries that have already established a sound for themselves. Bobby Long hasn’t done a single thing to separate himself, and as a result, we’re left completely bored.
It’s a shame, too, because opener ‘Devil Moon’ had me quite enticed. The strong bluesy, guitar lick leads us through the verse, accompanied by Long’s Americana vocals, creating a The Gaslight Anthem- type feel, except with much stronger blues grounding. It’s surely gripping in its early development of the album, and a great starting point for the LP to build on. But the building never comes. In fact, ‘Devil Moon’ is one of the most unique songs here when it had originally only seemed like a sampling of things to come. So when we get to the follow up tracks ‘She Won’t Leave’ and ‘In Your Way’, we are again given this dose of guitar heavy country, but this time with some monotone, repetitive pedal guitar in the background, and nothing else really to note. The choruses are a resounding ok
, and the songwriting is passable, but that’s really all that can be said about it.
So I guess that’s what it comes down to with this album. There just seems to be nothing noteworthy about most of its 12 tracks to merit repeat listens. It’s frustratingly monotonous in its presentation, keeps us around for way too long, and never varies from a very set standard of ideas. The ballads are pedal guitar heavy with lighter acoustic or electric guitar leading the way, and the “rockers” (if we can call them that) are purely just electric guitar riffage. We have the standard, everyday song structure and there is zero experimentation to speak of. The only song (yes there is one) that really breaks the mold is the stunning closer ‘To the Light’, with driving piano and acoustic guitar pounding its way through a gorgeous chorus. If every track was approached with this attention to detail we would have an entirely different record, certainly for the better.
He’s got the potential hidden somewhere, but there just seems to be a genuine lack of effort on the songwriting front. Songs blend together completely, and you get lost in the record. Not the good kind of lost either, but the kind where you get scared and just want to get out and find your mother. If he can find a way to channel his ideas into something that we haven’t already heard before, especially from him on every song previous, he might have a bright future in the genre. But for now, we’re left with ‘To the Light’ and ‘Devil Moon’ to remind us about a large dose of squandered potential.