SONG PREMIERE: Bob Bradshaw Fires Off Rock and Roll Barnburner with “21st Century Blues”

Singer/songwriter Bob Bradshaw announces an April 30 release date for his new CD, The Ghost Light, coming from Fluke Records, which blends influences from folk, rock, country, Americana and blues into one cohesive package of spell-binding music. 

Bob Bradshaw is a storyteller. And like any good storyteller, he possesses the ability to transform himself right before your very eyes, to not only craft a compelling cast of characters, but to inhabit them with complete and utter conviction. One listen to The Ghost Light reveals a true chameleon at work. One moment he’s an impulsive daredevil plunging over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel; the next, a sea-weary pirate lured to his death by a choir of sirens. More often than not, though, he’s simply one of us, just an ordinary, everyday soul searching for meaning, hope, and redemption wherever he can find it. 

Recorded over the past year, The Ghost Light is the product of time spent in quarantine, but it’s by no means a pandemic record. The songs here are timeless, drawing on the kind of fundamental humanity that binds us all as they grapple with heartbreak and regret, memory and nostalgia, loneliness and liberation. Bradshaw writes with a vivid eye for detail on the album, offering up a cinematic series of character-driven vignettes that often slip their most profound revelations between the lines, and his performances are subtle and understated to match, fleshed out with lush, evocative arrangements full of color and nuance. The result is a record as open as it is empathetic, a sharp, transportive collection that calls to mind everything from John Hiatt and Guy Clark to Bruce Cockburn and Nick Lowe in its potent mix of folk erudition and rock and roll urgency.

With every hall in town dark, Bradshaw found himself writing in a more adventurous, ambitious fashion than before. While his 2019 Queen Of The West was a concept album built around a single, overarching storyline, the songs Bradshaw penned for The Ghost Light were wide-ranging and eclectic, each one its own self-contained universe. When it came time to record, he worked both in-person with his core electric band (guitarists Andrew Stern and Andy Santospago, bassist Ed Lucie, and drummer Mike Connors), and remotely with hired guns like drummer/producer Dave Brophy (Patty Larkin, Eli “Paperboy” Reed), bassist/engineer Dave Westner (Tim Gearan, Peter Wolf) and bassist Zachariah Hickman (Josh Ritter, Ray LaMontagne), letting the music guide his decisions at every turn.

Ultimately, the album plays like a collection of short works of fiction, each song unique in its form and function yet inextricably linked by a common emotional thread. Every track is an invitation, a doorway to another time and place. The world may have gone dark this past year, but with The Ghost Light, Bob Bradshaw is determined to keep the bulb burning. That’s what good storytellers do.

Today Glide is excited to premiere “21st Century Blues,” one of the standout tracks on the new album. Dealing with the all too familiar feeling of uncertainty – which we have all faced over the past year – the song is a rambling blues testament to the weirdness that is the state of Florida. We’ve all heard of the Florida man, and this song brings him to life with a series of wild mishaps that transpire over the course of the tune in a similar fashion to James McMurtry’s sprawling and crazy lyrical tales. There is a chugging rock and roll groove that seems to capture the heat of Florida, and Bradshaw only ups the ante with plenty of hard-hitting solos that sizzle and burn. Between the music and the lyrics, Bradshaw manages to capture the unpredictable and frenetic mood that is often displayed in the news. 

Bradshaw describes the inspiration and process behind the song:

“21st Century Blues’ is set in the State of Florida – where drones film the aftermath of hurricanes, and weathermen broadcast live from the center of storms. Alligator mishaps, high speed chases, ‘stand your ground’ confrontations… it’s all part of the news, the 21st Century Blues. The song was recorded live from the floor at Woolly Mammoth Studios, Walmath, MA with Bob Bradshaw on vocals and rhythm guitar, Andrew Stern and Andy Santospago on electric guitars, Ed Lucie on bass and Mike Connors on drums.”

LISTEN:

Photo credit: Rafi Sofer

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