Press/Reviews

Four songs into his 25-song solo show Saturday night at the Narrows Center in Fall River, Rhett Miller was complimenting opening act Bob Kendall, but ended up perhaps shedding more light on his own appeal.
“I'm always jealous of anyone who can fingerpick guitar,” the Old 97s singer/songwriter was saying of Kendall. “I was never paying attention that closely. I was more like 'Just show me the chords–I have a lot of words to get out.”
Opener Bob Kendall also often plays with a full rock band, but as a solo act his seven-song set proved he can command a room with his warm baritone and impressive guitar work. An Alabama native now living in Rhode Island, Kendall has a Dylanesque knack for crafting folk-rock hooks, and his ode to a reluctant-to-commit lover, “Stay” offered a marvelously fresh perspective. There was a John Gorka/Ellis Paul type of storytelling aspect to the road song “Whiskey Jack” that made it wistful and warm. “WAISTD” was a desolate view of loneliness and frustration–the acronym stands for “What Am I Supposed to Do?” We'd suggest one thing for music lovers to do is pick up Kendall's eponymous 2013 CD.

It was hard for me to listen to the new Bob Kendall CD without hearing everyone but Bob Kendall. The production is a little bit all over the place and there are some tricks and licks I know were not intentionally copped from other people’s work.

Initially I could not break from hearing Beatles-esque production throughout. Especially on “Dazed” and “Stay” with vocal screams similar to those on “Revolution.” Then there was “Long Roads” with an opening reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt’s cut of “Nobody’s Girl.”

But then I just had to stop myself from going down that road with this body of work. Clearly this guy knows how to throw together lyrics and melody and make some great original music that stays with you.

With “Stay” he has a new twist on the near-break-up song with lines like, “You’re never going to have to compromise if you don’t stay.” “Long Road” has lots of nice long guitar runs, and touches upon the expansiveness of life itself and how sometimes just coming home is a comfortable way to deal with it all.

On “New Day,” Bob has a vocal quiver that reminds me a bit of John Hiatt. It works for this number. “New Day” is a bit of a plea for a friend, or lover, to not give up and roll that bad stretch of luck into a hopeful new day.

“WAISTD” runs a bit too long with a lost soul trying to get a grip on reality. But the pain and confusing stretch of this number that’s over 5 minutes long could be clearly intentional, intensifying this songwriter’s night ride.

If buying just one single from this collection, this writer would choose “Rage.” It is the most heartfelt, enduring relationship tune I have heard in a while. It has a nice production with neatly dropped cymbal crashes and soft keys to building waves of emotional tension. “Into the ocean, if all my rage slipped into the wrong hands, into the wrong hands, would we lose our way.”

The holidays can be painful, but there is nothing worse than grinning and bearing one’s painful way through them. “Holiday” reminds us that being with that special someone, even if things aren’t going well, might just be the only gift we need until the thaw.

I’m not sure what is really going on in “Pall Mall Days,” but I like the tune and maybe you and I really do not need to know and should just listen to this one.

The most acoustic tune on the album is “You Can’t Have Everything.” If this is what he sounds like solo acoustic, I think we should all seek him out and give a listen. It is his voice, rather raw and up front, that opens this careful-what-you-wish-for number, “You can’t have everything, cause you just want more, careful what you’re asking for, cause it might be yours.”

The collection ends with what appears to be a ghost track – “Wind.” A plane flying overhead, a church organ and tenor vocalist singing a la Sunday service style. Curious for sure.

I think Bob Kendall’s work is well worth its place in one’s collection. If you are not convinced by this reviewer’s take, give a listen to him yourself on November 22 at the Commonfence Point in Little Compton. Learn more about Bob by visiting bobkendall.com

- See more at: http://motifri.com/cd-review-bob-kendalls-self-titled-album/#sthash.xg3kUHEp.dpuf

 by Chris Conti

Textures and Treasures

New Discs by Bob Kendall and Allysen Callery

Homegrown East Bay imprint 75orLess Records continues to crank out noteworthy product on a regular basis, including new records from two of the finest singer-songwriters Lil Rhody has to offer in Bob Kendall and Allysen Callery. Kendall follows up 2012’s Midnight Flower with a self-titled full-length, while Callery just released (by popular demand) a four-song session for Folk Radio UK, with production help from Kendall. To celebrate, the pair will team up at the Channing Memorial Church in Newport on Tuesday (the 29th), with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

Aquidneck resident Kendall has a long New England rock pedigree which dates back to the early ’80s. He was born in Huntsville, Alabama (aka “Rocket City”), where his father “somehow” scored a job at IBM working on NASA’s Apollo Rocket systems (Kendall: “He didn’t go to college and barely made it through high school, but clearly he was a smart bastard”). The family was transferred to Rhode Island during his teen years and Kendall moved to Boston following high school in 1981 with his brother Greg, and eventually became a staple of the city’s burgeoning indie/college rock scene with the bands Lifeboat and the Blood Oranges, opened for the likes of R.E.M., the Replacements, and Gang of Four (he also had a day job at the legendary Fort Apache studios in Cambridge). Kendall garnered acclaim with his 2002 solo debut Enough Is Enough and landed a spot the Newport Folk Fest that year, sharing the same stage as Bob Dylan.

Around that time, Kendall also became focused on his career, writing and developing curriculum for programs to prevent violence, and worked in various school districts throughout the state.

“I had been working with men and women who were arrested for domestic violence, as well as victims of domestic violence, and I began to focus on ways to get the word out to younger people so that they wouldn’t fall into the same patterns,” Kendall said when I dropped him a line earlier this week. “The work was sometimes pretty emotionally taxing and required an enormous amount of focus and energy.”

He had been jamming out material with longtime friend and Throwing Muses drummer Dave Narcizo, and brought some tracks to Kraig Jordan at his Plan of a Boy studio, which has developed into the go-to production homebase for 75orLess musicmakers. Kendall released Midnight Flower via 75orLess, an earnest display of Americana and roots-rock songwriting (listen up, fans of Wilco and Buffalo Tom). Tanya Donelly (who has been recording new stuff with Jordan at POAB) joined Kendall on the title track, and released her own rendition on her latest EP, Swan Songs III.

While gathering material for his next solo album, Kendall performed with Jordan as “Stan Sobczak,” a multi-media project that accompanied Jordan’s space-age, ambient music score Stanatron (get it at 75orlessrecords.com).

“Bob is probably best known for the Americana material, but that really is just one piece of what he does,” said Jordan. “He is truly a multi-dimensional artist and a master of textures.”

Kendall’s strong songwriting and penchant for slow-burning melodies are on full display across the new solo album. “New Day” addresses his father’s longtime bout with dementia. His vocals ride squelches of reverb on “WAISTD” and coasts into the standout, smoldering cut “Rage” (with Narcizo’s cymbals crashing through) where he croons, “If you’re bored with me, baby, just rest me up on the shelf/If you’re bored with, bored with me baby, I’m a good read for somebody else.” The band is in full swing on “Dazed” (“a true collaboration,” said Kendall), and the acoustic folk cuts “Dead End Dream” and “Pall Mall Days” are nice changes of pace. The album was produced by the revered Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Pixies, Warren Zevon), and Kendall said they will also work together on his next album.  

Kendall recently worked the boards for Bristol’s favorite songbird, Allysen Callery, who remains on the international radar following a few European tours. On her latest release we are treated to another stunning session for UK Folk Radio. The four songs include a traditional British Isles cover (“Blackwaterside”), a gorgeous unreleased track titled “All In the Morning” (Callery’s vocals and finger-picking guitar skills are second to none here), and two re-recorded songs, “The Huntsman” (originally found on her Summer Place EP) and the precious “Spare Parts” from Mumblin’ Sue. Callery’s subtle delivery is pure gold on lines here like “I’m pretty good with my hands, and I need a man who’ll whir and purr, stir at my command” and “I’ll build a man with a gold heart out of those spare parts.”

Kendall and Callery met last summer and the chemistry immediately clicked. They recorded the sessions in Kendall’s “shed” during one wintry evening (with help from Don Julio tequila, reportedly). The disc has sold out, but her Folk Radio UK Session 2014 download is still available at allysencallery.bandcamp.com. Kendall also worked the boards for a Callery cover of Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s “I Gave You” for a Will Oldham tribute compilation, and will produce Callery’s next album.

“Bob is able to produce exactly the sound I want, without me explaining or saying anything — I love it,” Callery gushed. “I feel like I discovered a hidden treasure over there in Middletown, but lots of people have known and loved him for a long time.”

BOB KENDALL + ALLYSEN CALLERY + MARK CUTLER + KEN SHANE | Tuesday, July 29 @ 7 pm | Channing Memorial Church, 135 Pelham St, Newport | $15 | bobkendall.com | 75orlessrecords.com




 




 By Marc Clarkin

Bob Kendall returns with follow up to his last release, Midnight Flower (75orLessRecords). The new record has a decidedly Americana feel. I like the dark atmosphere on the opening track “Stay.” “Pall Mall Days” has kind of a folk feel, which I dig here. “You Can’t Have Everything” has kind of an Irish folk beat that I could see generating some good sing-a-longs at shows. The optimistic “New Day” is probably my favorite on the line, maybe just for the lyric, “If you lose your mind, don’t let it get to you.” Much of the record seems to be bridging ‘60s stuff like The Byrds with more modern influences like Uncle Tupelo and Wilco. This record is also available through the 75orLessRecords website. The CD release show is at one of the best laid back places to catch a show, The Narrows. The venue installed an air conditioning system last year so one no longer has to worry about being trapped in the sweat fest that old factory buildings can become in late June. Bob Kendall Band and Smith&Weeden will rock The Narrows in Fall River on June 20th. - 

Bob Kendall Band

Rhode Island roots rockers The Bob Kendall Band opened the evening with a well-received set. Kendall led his band through several guitar driven tunes, including the lilting ballad “Midnight Flower,” the title song from their 2010 album. They followed with a new song “Dazed,” a mellow country-rocker from their forthcoming album, Washed Away.

Behind Kendall’s 12 string guitar, the Tom Petty/Byrds influence on the band is clear. But there’s more. Like the headline act, they draw on 60s and 70s pop, the Beatles, and country rock artists like Gram Parsons.

Playing mostly originals, the band kicked it into high gear on “I Wish I was Your Mother,” a 1973 lost classic by Mott the Hoople. Setting the table for Autumn Defense, they closed with their rocker “Athmosphere,” highlighted by a Kinks inspired guitar intro with a Big Star feel. Bob and the band play a lot of shows around town – be on the lookout for the new album and be sure to check them out live sometime soon!

Ken Abrams - www.golocalprov.com

RI's Motif Magazine has nominated us for "Best Americana Album" and Best American Vocalist" Vote and help out RI's music scene-

Many of my good friends are also in the mix- MArk Cutler, The MAsons, Skinny Millionaires, The "Mericans, The Silks, Six Star. You can vote here www.motifri.com/vote-in-the-2013-motif-music-awards/

 

 

General,  etc.  75orless records is making a mark!!

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 Country Standard Time

 Bob Kendall

Enough Is Enough – 2002 (Kentone)

Reviewed by Bill Silvers

 Bob Kendall's first solo record is the product of over a decade's experience of making music with others, combined with an eye for the details of life gathered from a career spent helping others. After a short stint playing bass in an early incarnation of the Blood Oranges, Kendall spent time playing with his brother Greg as The Brothers Kendall. After a few years of social service work, he started writing his own music and gigging locally in Rhode Island, where last year he played at the Newport Folk Festival.

Though ostensibly a solo record (all 12 songs are self-written), Bob Kendall is ably backed here by a full band, with brother Greg helping out on guitars. The sound balances between upbeat pop ("Long Honeymoon" is a wry, bouncy charmer about a stale relationship), roots-rock ("Too Gone To Drive") and guitar-driven contemplation (the intriguing opener "Grand Finale"). Kendall isn't a powerful singer, but his vocals, most directly reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy, are consistently affecting. The record is self-produced, effectively varying textures to match the tales of "recrimination and self-deception," as Kendall puts it. The humor and insights displayed here inspire appreciation beyond a doubt.