Bobby Long: Ode to Thinking

Bobby Long’s latest record was completely fan-funded in under four weeks, a testament to his devout following separate of his vampire swan song.

Bobby Long
Album : Ode To Thinking
Label: Compass
US Release Date: 2015-08-07

In a musical climate without major label omnipotence or an FYE top 20 kiosk to shove down the throats of non-discerning music listeners, consumers have access to every niche imaginable, making their listening choices all the more personal and intentional. Which is why crowdfunding campaigns are so encouraging. Through donations fans transfer creative sustainability to the artists they want to hear.

Best known for his writing credit in the first Twilight installment, British folk singer, Bobby Long’s latest record Ode To Thinking was completely fan-funded in under four weeks, a testament to his devout following separate of his vampire swan song. This intimate exchange between artist and follower probably creates an expectancy and pressure to deliver, which is why it comes as no surprise that Long called this record his most personal yet. Mostly unplugged, Ode To Thinking is aptly named, an 11 track dialogue that feels like his mental musings put to melody.

While most artists seem to plug in more as their career’s progress, experimenting with synth and sound, Long strips down to his stage elements, creating a record that mirrors his live acoustic performance. Highlight track, “Cold Hearted Lover of Mine” isn’t cryptic musically or lyrically, but its sweet in its sadness as he sings, “Was I just here to pass the time? Cold Hearted Lover of Mine.” Another highlight, cued in by heavy harmonica “That Little Place” is reminiscent of Long’s storyteller style of work in past records like A Winter Tale, the kind that pulls his grained vocals forefront following his emotive highs and lows by the ebb and flow of his aggression.

“I’m Not Going Out Tonight” picks up the pace of the record, a catchy hook tune with a more assertive vocal tone, and the title track “Ode To Thinking” is a political commentary with a pretty, hymnal quality to its harmonies, but it’s hard not to feel like things are becoming a bit anticlimactic passing from song to song. While the entire record is sincerely written and elegant in its acoustic simplicity, it’s fitting for the diehards, designed for the fans who just want to hear what’s in Long’s head. Sometimes cryptic works and sometimes, without musical variation, it starts to feel a little lifeless.

There’s no question that Long is a poet or that his unplugged sound isn’t where he shines, because it’s certainly where he does. Harmonica heavy as well, one of his most popular tracks off A Winter Tale “Dead and Done” exemplified his ability to set an acoustic song on fire, rhyming without cheese and growling in all the right places, but there’s something monotonous about Ode To Thinking that misses the mark the way he’s hit it previously.

Despite its shortcomings in excitement, this record deserves to be heard and should be recognized for its sincerity and successful folk simplicity. Bobby Long is the kind of artist people root for, he’s candid, gracious and unobtrusive; which is why it comes as no surprise that he’s garnered a following so devout they swiftly helped to finance an entire record for him. Ode To Thinking isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s an important reminder of good art his fans can be proud to say they founded.

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