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Music Review - `Two sides to this Town' by Bobbo Byrnes (jh)

Bobbo Byrnes - Two Sides to This Town

28 June 2018

 

Bobbo Byrnes -

This is the fourth solo album from the leader of the Southern California band, The Fallen Stars. Bobbo Byrnes originally hails from the suburbs of Boston, MA and still retains much of that blue collar work hard play harder attitude associated with hockey players, of which he is one. He is equally comfortable writing about folks he knows in prison as those on the police force. That dichotomy is at the heart of the aptly titled Two Sides to This Town.

He has seven originals here as well as covers from Chris Knight (“The Jealous Kind”), Matthew Ryan (‘Dam’), and Tracy Huffman (“Glad”). It’s singer-songwriter, Americana-styled fare, at times folk-like and at others, rocking, imbued by the harmonies of his bass playing wife, Tracy. Byrnes is a multi-instrumentalist, playing all kinds of strings and keys, as well as “the noisier guitar solos.” The tasty guitar solos come from Southern California session great Danny Ott. It’s a four-piece unit, including Matt Froehlich on drums and percussion. Yet, it usually sounds like five or six players, given Byrnes’s multiple use of instruments.

The album opens with “Angelia,” as gently strummed guitars give way to electric jangling duel guitars as the B3 swirls underneath. It’s one of those “roll down the windows and the let the wind blow back your hair” songs, perfect for the car, as Byrnes sings about driving by the neon lights, the Texaco and the hardware store that burned down. Byrnes is a story teller who doesn’t take himself too seriously. In “Heart Like Mine,” he admits to poor decision-making, singing “I fuck ‘em up every time.” He’s on the side of the road with bad luck in one of the standout tracks, “Welfare Cadillac” – “That’s me hitching a ride/That’s me pushing my car/I know just where I’m at/No luck this is just a flat/I’m as serious as a heart attack/I love my welfare Cadillac.” The use of the echo effects is either cool or annoying, depending on your mood.

He sings in duet, rather fondly about his home state, in the organ-driven, celebratory “Massachusetts,” with its incessant chorus “Wrap your arms around this old heart of mine.” The “Last Hurrah” is a country folk song, again featuring some fine harmonies from Tracy and pedal steel from Byrnes. He gets amped up again for “Summer Wine,” a mid-tempo rocker that reaches a crescendo of sounds at the end. The closer, “Vegas,” is a lighthearted shuffle with a few changes and plenty of searing guitar licks.

Byrnes seems like the fun-loving type. At heart, he’s a rocker and his sound stays mostly in that vein. You’ll have fun listening, especially to “Angelia,” “Heart Like Mine,” and “Welfare Cadillac.”

 

Jim Hynes

 

 

Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

 

 


 

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