There are few artists who can pull off a musical performance with just themselves and a guitar. Although a staple of campus coffeehouses, a truly great singer-songwriter needs a recognizable voice, strong lyrical content and some degree of skill at the guitar to be worth it. Bobby Long is well on his way.
He gets a check for recognizable voice; Long is British and a moderate trace of the accent is present in his singing. Listeners won’t confuse him for other folk players whose voices run together.
He also has strong lyrics covered. The songs range in mood, but nearly all form compelling content. Titular “A Winter Tale” is among the darkest tracks and “In the Frost” is the most upbeat, but they and everything in between fits well into Long’s scheme.
Long is nothing special when it comes to six-strings, but within the expectations of the genre, he is more than competent.
Seemingly, a musician who can handle himself so well solo would avoid including a backing band, yet Long does so on many of the tracks. The band makes the tracks it partakes in more vibrant than Long’s solo takes, but even with the help of producer Liam Watson (of White Stripes fame), Long is most appealing when he goes it alone.
Granted, Long had an extended period of time to gather these tracks together. He had been gathering attention for more than two years after he self-released “Dirty Pond Songs” in 2009. Some of the tracks from that debut made it onto “A Winter Tale,” his label debut.
The addition of extra musicians made Long more accessible to new listeners, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the next album being entirely solo.