[20 October 2011]
The Dang-It Bobbys’ second album begins with a classic Americana intro of a fiddle and banjo melody with bass and cymbal backing, but then Kris Bauman’s clear tenor voice starts singing and it’s evident that he brings more to the table than just a love of old-timey music. Bauman runs the show here. Not only is he a great lead singer, he also writes all of the songs and plays more then 10 different instruments on Big Trouble. It’s a lot to handle in this genre, but he has a knack for finding a catchy melody. He’s also an effective bandleader and arranger, knowing just when to employ backing harmonies, when to let lead guitarist Luca Benedetti take center stage, and when to stretch the instrumentation and use piano or even flute.
A song like “I Love You” could easily be cloying, but the constant motion of the several guitars keep the song musically interesting while the lyrics temper the statement of love with a healthy amount of self-deprecation. The uptempo, instantly memorable “Sad Sack” finds Bauman admonishing a friend to stop fixating on a woman who isn’t interested in him. The song’s sly reference to Scientology (“You’re taking Prozac / She’s reading up on Xenu / That’s not the way to begin” ) works all the better because it’s so unexpected. The title track’s mariachi-style music is the perfect accompaniment to a story of a group of Americans getting pulled over by la policia in Mexico and trying, poorly, to use their mediocre Spanish to get out of the situation. The Dang-It Bobbys try a little bit of everything on this album, and nearly all of it, even the pair of bluegrass instrumentals, works out for the band. Big Trouble is one of the best Americana albums I’ve heard in 2011.