My new album ‘American Echoes’ is now available. Writing in No Depression Frank Gutch Jr said: “Some of Bradshaw's songs are immediate classics in my mind. The kind of songs songwriters and musicians listen to. The kind of songs which become part of your DNA.” Bill Bentley of the Morton Report wrote: "In a year full of albums that sound like they'll live forever, Bob Bradshaw has made one of the best." The Sunday Express (UK) called it “… a frequently spellbinding blend of country and nuanced rock with a winning lushness in the instrumentation and backing vocals, showcasing a highly original talent.” Eric Thom of Blurt Magazine writes: "Bob Bradshaw is clearly a different breed of singer-songwriter who has spent a lifetime honing his craft – invested as he is in each and every song. Lovers. Losers. Dreamers and derelicts collide with the hopeful and the helpless. They’re all lovingly depicted here in their stark beauty, wrapped in a readily-identifiable reality – as observed in exacting detail by a writer with the power to see in from the outside, while experiencing life from both sides to be able to tell their tales so convincingly." Sean Smith of the Boston Irish Reporter says Bradshaw's "brand of country-rock/acoustic folk-pop is enriched by a songwriting approach that can be observational (“Exotic Dancers Wanted,” “Call It What You Will”), introspective (“Material for the Blues”), economical yet eloquent (“O Brother”), sly (“Workin’ On My Protest Song”) and endearingly tender (“Meet Me,” “Stella”)" .John Amer in Red Guitar called ‘American Echoes’ a “rich melting pot of collated ideas and signals” and Music Riot said the album is “packed with great lyrical and musical ideas and gets better with repeated plays.” Maximum Volume Music wrote: “Like all great songwriters, Bradshaw can mould experiences into something illuminating and give them universal quality. There is something of the dark Tom Waits world about Exotic Dancers Wanted.” “With inspiration pulled from country and folk, bluegrass and blues, a soupcon of jazz and barrel-loads of Americana," Tom Franks of Folkwords writes, “it’s a collection of songs written with a deep understanding of it’s subjects.” And Midwest Record writes: “A first rate recording that raises the songwriting bar, all I can say is Bradshaw has the shining and knows how to capture lightning in a bottle.”

 

Some reviews of 'American Echoes'

from BLURT MAGAZINE 3/30/18:

In the “not what you expected” department, Bob Bradshaw delivers an eyebrow-raiser on American Echoes – 12 tasty originals defying traditional categorization. While the disc’s peculiar cover art might suggest a New Age outing as the inside sleeve conjures the Old West, you’d be hard-pressed to connect either image to the music found inside. American Echoes is, instead, a fully realized collection of masterful songs and fully fleshed-out arrangements that feature an impressive cast of like-minded musicians. Admittedly, it may take some time for these songs to glue themselves to your brain because there’s so much going on, both musically and lyrically – but they will, eventually proving irresistible. Like wet puppies in a rainstorm.

It’s Bradshaw’s vocals that hit you first. His is not an immediately likeable voice – but herein lies its charm and appeal as you come to know him. A mongrel of sorts – you swear you’ve heard this voice before. Darden Smith? Richard Shindell? Think more of a non-alcoholic Robert Earl Keen – a warm, laidback tone with all its rough edges worn off. A disparate collection of songs, each sounds unlike the one before it. The hooks are subtle, but they’re there – the type which sink their roots deeper and deeper with continued listening. So Bradshaw is hard to peg. Why do you need to? An honest singer-songwriter of poetic proportions, he seems both blessed and cursed with a world-weary outlook and a voice to match.

His music is more beautiful than it is cool, a throwback to the ‘60s in some ways. Born in Cork, Ireland, Bradshaw’s time spent in America (Boston) has paid off in his ability to chronicle the good, the bad and the ugly – many of the characters in these songs read like entries from a diary. Mix in the lessons he’s learned from Berklee and it’s quite understandable why Bradshaw dances to a different drummer. He’s a skilled storyteller, painting elaborate pictures as an observer more than he is the subject of each song, arousing our interest as he chronicles each vignette. He’s been there – as have we all.

Kicking off with “Exotic Dancers Wanted”, you’re instantly engulfed by warm, acoustic bass and gentle piano as a full tapestry of acoustic and electric guitar joins Britt Connors and Annie Lynch’s lush backup vocals. Bradshaw mirrors an intersection of Keen to John Prine, possessed of all the confidence in the world, owning the end result. Likewise, “Meet Me” presents a beguiling invitation which leans on Connors’ background vocal as Andrew Stern turns in a tasty, country-dipped solo on electric guitar, all set against the burbling keys of James Rohr’s electric piano. You might pay special attention to the drums and percussion work of Mike Connors, who repeatedly brings much more to the party than a mere beat. A comparably darker “Call It What You Will” is buoyed by Rohr’s delicate touch on piano, lifted further by keyboardist/ co-writer Scoop McGuire. Britt Connors’ mournful vocal support helps darken the clouds behind this stormy relationship despite McGuire’s odd choice of synth. Cue the more upbeat, ”The Assumptions We Make”, driven by the strumming of Bradshaw’s acoustic guitar, challenged by the electric guitar and resonator work of co-writer, Andy Santospago and abetted by Stern. Rohr’s B3 provides real body to the mix over the rhythm section of Ed Lucie and Mike Connors.

Next, audition the downright peculiar, almost angular, “Workin’ On My Protest Song”, which features the dynamic, exploratory, spidery guitar of Andrew Stern and the soft, combined hush of backup singers Connors and Lynch. As Mike Connors provides a powerful foundation of soothing percussion in African proportions, the chorus breaks to reveal one of this disc’s true highlights. The addition of Chad Manning’s fiddle to “A Bird Never Flew on Just One Wing” provides a country feel as Bradshaw’s vocal preens, Keen-like, over Stern’s tough guitar sound and Connors’ fat backbeat. Suddenly, Bradshaw rocks out with a guitar-driven “Weight of the World” which, more Beatles than Petty, more Mellencamp than Seger, commands a charm of its own for the trucker in all of us. Co-writer/lead guitarist Andrew Stern is clearly off his leash and this pounding power ballad offers a distinctive wake-up call – right down to its cowbell – marking the album’s halfway point. Alternately, “Stella” proves an intoxicating love song in the form of a waltz, bathed in Rohr’s B3, Stern’s soothing electric guitar with Rohr doubling up on accordion. “My Double And I” features the sparring, double guitars of Stern and Santospago, offering up wah-wah and lead accompaniment, built around an odd, jazz-fueled swing beat. The more melancholy “Material For The Blues” celebrates the invisible bruises of the heart, reinforced by Manning’s country fiddle and Annie Lynch’s ghosted vocal support. (Take special note of Andy Santospago’s seductive baritone guitar break.) “O Brother” incorporates a slide guitar technique (Stern) that could’ve fallen from George Harrison’s trickbag, yet this device, together with Bradshaw’s bent lyrics, succeeds in conjuring a doomed, too-casual relationship between two strangers championing distinctly opposite needs. The Celtic-edged “Old Soldiers” erupts like American bedrock – all fiddle, banjo and military snare, adding meat to the old adage that, for those who make the ultimate sacrifice, will live forever.

Bob Bradshaw is clearly a different breed of singer-songwriter who has spent a lifetime honing his craft – invested as he is in each and every song. Lovers. Losers. Dreamers and derelicts collide with the hopeful and the helpless. They’re all lovingly depicted here in their stark beauty, wrapped in a readily-identifiable reality – as observed in exacting detail by a writer with the power to see in from the outside, while experiencing life from both sides to be able to tell their tales so convincingly. - ERIC THOM

from Boston Irish Reporter 4/27/17:

Bob Bradshaw, “American Echoes” • Bradshaw, a Cork native now living in Boston, is thoroughly in his groove with this, his seventh album. His brand of country-rock/acoustic folk-pop is enriched by a songwriting approach that can be observational (“Exotic Dancers Wanted,” “Call It What You Will”), introspective (“Material for the Blues”), economical yet eloquent (“O Brother”), sly (“Workin’ On My Protest Song”) and endearingly tender (“Meet Me,” “Stella”).
While Bradshaw has often shared author credits – here with several others, including longtime collaborator Scoop Maguire, on 10 of the 12 tracks – there’s never been any question that the songs are his. A lot of them are set in the paradigmatic rough section of town, amidst dive bars, diners, and coffee shops that probably never had better days to see (“Different names on different nights/Candi, Dixie, Annabelle/What’s written in the lights/Whatever thrills the clientele”), but there’s nothing salacious or voyeuristic in the tone; Bradshaw doesn’t invite pity for or judgment on the characters, just our attention, perhaps our empathy.
Bradshaw’s supporting cast for “American Echoes” is slightly different, notably including electric guitarists Andrew Stern and Andy Santospago, who bring a strong rock presence to songs like “Weight of the World,” “The Assumptions We Make” and “O Brother.” A welcome returnee is keyboardist James Rohr, contributing a graceful piano to “Call It What You Will” and a warm Hammond organ to “Stella.”
Unquestionably, one of the album’s lyrical highlights is “My Double and I,” a wonderfully wry lament for the age of identity theft and dissociation set to a jazzy rhythm, Stern’s wah-wah electric guitar accentuating the song’s sense of absurdity: “My double and I rarely meet/When we do it’s a touchy matter/We both try to cross the street/Neither one of us is flattered”; “Then there was this girl who’d seen us/She ended up in therapy/When I made her choose between us/She said he pretended he was me.”
To close out the album, Bradshaw shifts gears again with “Old Soldiers,” a simple, dignified ode to veterans (and a welcome contrast to puffed-up pseudo-anthems that stoke patriotism’s worst excesses) carried along by Mike Connors’s soft regimental drumming and Chad Manning’s gentle fiddling. You can practically envision a Ken Burns-like montage as Bradshaw speaks to soldiers’ humanity, rather than their deeds (“Old soldiers on old horses/on faded trails of chivalry”).
In typically modest fashion, Bradshaw said a couple of years ago that he’s learned to get “out of my own way” in his songwriting – his goal being “to write a song that apparently wrote itself.” But Bradshaw can, and should, take full credit for his work – and those who appreciate a good songwriter should take notice of “American Echoes.” - Sean Smith

from NO DEPRESSION 11/16/17:

It is hard to call Bob Bradshaw a folkie but even the rockers on American Echoes scream folk. Bob Bradshaw must be one of the musicians who forced the whole Americana genre--- those who fit into various categories depending upon song because he certainly does not fit a mold. Forget that his voice and writing styles reflect a cross between Jeff Finlin and Paul Curreri, two singer/songwriters of immense talent. Forget that he delves into territory seldom entered--- that of emotional and lyrical gold. Forget that he is from Cork, Ireland but sounds much more like he is from Boston, a city he has lived in since 2003. Forget everything. You listen to American Echoes and you hear Bob Bradshaw, musician/poet, and for those moments, that's all you need.

Bradshaw has a hand in every song on the album but only claims the opener and closer for himself: “Exotic Dancers Wanted,” a look at the dark personal side of strippers and their followers, so to speak, and “Old Soldiers” who never die because they just fade away. Sandwiched between those songs are ten written in collaboration with others, a few which could easily be called classic. “Call It What You Will” (video above), a moody, bumpy, rhythmic ride through the chafe of relationships; “The Assumptions We Make,” a mixture of folk and rock produced to perfection; “Working On My Protest Song,” a bit of jazzy folk dissonance between major chord progressions (a song well within the Paul Curreri wheelhouse); “Weight of the World,” the one real rocker on the album (pure rock 'n' roll); “My Double and I,” a slinky, jazzy and humorous comparison of doppelganger personalities (very Randy Newman); and “Oh Brother,” a song I am still processing and a song I am loving while doing it.

I could see this one slipping through the cracks just because Bradshaw is so varied in his approach to each song, but it could also easily be a Sleeper. One of those albums you never give its just due until you realize that you have been playing it more than anything else in your collection. I give it the status of Paul Curreri's The Big Shitty, a collection of songs so unique I doubt I will ever hear their like again. Some of Bradshaw's songs are immediate classics in my mind. The kind of songs songwriters and musicians listen to. The kind of songs which become part of your DNA.

Songwriting: A+. Performance: A. Production: A. That goes for everyone involved. - Frank Gutch JR.

From Real Roots Cafe - 12/9/16
A more than excellent singer-songwriter, the born Irishman Bob Bradshaw, who now resides for about 15 years in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The fact that making music is taken seriously proves the fact that he graduated - many years older than his classmates - in 2009 at the famous Berklee College of Music (in Boston). As sources of inspiration he mentions the Americana giants Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt, John Hiatt, Steve Earle and John Prine. Listening to the song 'Workin' on my protest song 'of the beautiful new CD, I want to add Paul Simon to this list. On the occasion of his previous CD, Whatever You Wanted (2015), I wrote: 'Bradshaw brings a lot of variation on his new CD. A cross-pollination of pop, rock, country, soul and you name it! Great CD, good songs, great voice, great accompaniment! "And I think he has only gotten better on this 'American Echoes'. Bob treats a dozen fine songs, in which he again discusses all the angles of the Americana. Important in the accompaniment is guitarist (electric) Andrew Stern, in addition there is James Rohr on various keys and accordion (and vocals) and of course more guitars, bass and drums / percussion. Occasionally we hear fiddle (Chad Manning !!), lap steel, glockenspiel, and banjo. In his texts, Bob - like many of his colleagues, draws from his own experiences with events and encounters with others. The bar life is discussed in 'Exotic Dancers Wanted' and 'Meet Me' (at the bar like the westside on eleventh). Nice is his subtle ode to 'Old soldiers never die': 'Old soldiers never die, they fade away. It's written in their DNA, no need to ask me why old soldiers never die ', nicely enlivened by fiddle and banjo. Wonderful CD, this seventh from Bradshaw. Go listen and be enchanted by this great songwriter. Great CD, this seventh by Bob Bradshaw. Take a listen and let him enchant you with his songs and stories. - Fred Schmale

 

 

 

From The Morton Report, 11/3/17:

There are most likely hundreds of strong singer-songwriters lurking in America, playing shows where they live, recording albums the best they can and believing in themselves enough to keep going. Some have even come here from other countries, knowing they need to be in the land where rock & roll started, and where it still finds its most welcoming home. Bob Bradshaw moved to America from Ireland, and eventually made his way to Boston, where he went to the Berklee College of Music in classes with students half his age. That was okay, because he was driven to learn and then write songs that deserved to be heard. After a handful of albums and bands, Bradshaw has made the album to define his life. That an Irishman would use the word "American" in the title shows how strong he wants to express how things are now. These are songs that crawl up the back and wrap themselves around the neck, sending feelings to places that aren't easy to find. The man is clearly in thrall of writers like Jack Kerouac and Nelson Algren, but at the same time he has forged his own language. That's what matters most, along with a voice that is inspired in its intercontinental flavor and enquiring eye. In a year full of albums that sound like they'll live forever, Bob Bradshaw has made one of the best. Emeralds for all - Bill Bentley.

 

 

From SundayExpress UK, 10/22/17

Irish-born Bradshaw based himself in America, enrolling in the Berklee College Of Music to hone his songwriting craft. 

The result, on this seventh album, is a frequently spellbinding blend of country and nuanced rock with a winning lushness in the instrumentation and backing vocals.

The opening Exotic Dancers Wanted owes more than a nod to Tom Waits but A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing and the genuinely funny My Double And I showcase a highly original talent.

 

from Red Line Roots 10/23/17:

"Bob Bradshaw walks a fine line. The tone of his voice floating over the arrangements of his songs is familiar and inviting, but still incredibly unique in the landscape of music we are all currently dwelling in. His songs roll off his lips and into a listeners ears in a seemingly effortless fashion, but if you know the songwriter on any sort of personal level you realize the dedication and persistence that went into each recorded note in the studio or each word that hit the page. This month sees a new record from the Irish born singer called “American Echoes” and from the press rolling already, it promises to be Bradshaw’s most prolific and introspective album to date.

Bradshaw’s 2015 release, “Whatever You Wanted” encompassed a real atmospheric vibe and this latest effort offers up a bit of the same. A keen focus on penning a song that will stick and bringing in some of the most renowned studio musicians that the Northeast has to offer, no element goes without careful consideration on this new one…not that we would expect anything less from Bob." - Brian Carroll.

 

from FATEA 10;25/17:

Born in Ireland but, currently living in Boston, Bradshaw's seventh album pays tribute to the music and experiences absorbed from 25 years in America with a dozen songs that variously take in the blues, country, folk and bluegrass. He has an easy on the ear, relaxed style, perfectly illustrated by opening track, 'Exotic Dancers Wanted', a bittersweet sketch of life inside a pole dancing bar, of the clients and the dancers, variously seeking thrills, escape and "pockets filled with dollar bills."

Taking the tempo up a notch, the catchily melodic 'Meet Me' , an ode to New York with a touch of Sleepless in Seattle about it, finds the narrator suggesting a series of possible lovers' trysts, from the coffee shop near Lexington and forty seventh to the Staten Island ferry or the viewing platform on the Empire State. Underpinned by piano, keys and lap steel, 'Call It What You Will', on the other hand, has a more downbeat note to its smoky, late night Manhattan bluesy vibe and lyrics about a relationship at the tipping point and words you can't take back. On the other hand, 'The Assumptions We Make' is the flip side of 'Meet Me', the optimism replaced by disappointment over a date that never shows.

'Workin' On My Protest Song' takes a musical leaf out of Paul Simon's Gracebook musical notebook, an Afro-Americana shuffle with a wry lyric about protest singers who reckon their songs will change world. There isn't actually a Keystone Bar & Grill (the name of a restaurant chain in Cincinnati as it happens) at the end of as Union Hill as mentioned in the Celtic-Americana tinged 'A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing', but it sounds as there should be as, featuring Chad Manning on fiddle, it finds the narrator dropping by in the afternoon to kill time with a couple of drinks, just him, the bartender and some guy spouting such drunken wisdom as the song title.

Andrew Stern punching up the electric guitar, 'Weight of the World' shifts the mood for a Southern boogie rock n roll guitar riff track though you might also hear some Beatles touches there. By contrast, it's followed by the shuffling waltz of 'Stella' which, with Stern's resonator guitar break, is strikingly reminiscent of Elvis Costello's more romantic side.

He rings the changes again with the jazzy blues and wah wah guitar work of the witty Jekyll & Hyde lyric of a "cosmic double cross" 'My Double And I', the mood shifting to melancholy with the 'Material For The Blues' with its theme about preferring loneliness ("there are no marks, you see no bruise") to the abusive relationship the (male) narrator appears to be in.

Stern's slide adds muscle to the vocally powered-up 'O Brother', another song that deals with aspects of relationships, here the fear of commitment on the part of the singer when faced with a one night encounter who wants more.

It ends with a melancholic shade, Andy Santospago's banjo and Manning's fiddle providing the textures for the sepia-toned, old-time feel of 'Old Soldiers' ("never die, they fade away") with Mike Connors suitably underpinning with a military drum beat, a haunting finale to an album that, like its title, continues to echo long after the last note fades.

Mike Davies

 

 

From Red Guitar  10/19/17:

 

I have recently taken up photography as a hobby, not digital, but on film. I am shunning “Auto” and taking time to compose each shot, being choosy about what I take, as the roll is not infinite. As such, each shot becomes treasured, even if it does not come out as expected. Bob Bradshaw’s new album, ‘American Echoes’, has the feeling of a treasured photo album crammed with fond memories and experiences. Indeed, Bradshaw started his journey in America, which has led to the content of ‘American Echoes’, way back in 1989. It is a product of the people, places and venues he has visited and the experiences he has had in his adopted homeland. It draws on classic American genres ranging from country and folk to bluegrass and the blues. The album is a celebration and a document of the dreamers, poets and sinners that he has met on his journey across the nation’s landscape.

 

Bradshaw, an Irish born singer/songwriter, is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, gaining his degree of Professional Music in 2009. This “official” accreditation of his abilities is underpinned by years of experience as a self-taught player performing in the streets of Europe as well as in U.S. cover bands, bar bands, and in his own San Francisco Band, Resident Aliens. Evidence of this experience on the road and as a graduate professional, feeds into the sound and lyrics found on ‘American Echoes’. The new album follows critical acclaim for the predecessors ‘Home’ in 2013 and 2015’s ‘Whatever You Wanted’, which was named by the Telegraph as one of the best Americana/Country albums of the year. It was credited as “a wonderful paced example of how he has lifted the sights, sounds and moods if America and sparkled them with originality” (Pennyblack Music). ‘American Echoes’ is a compelling development of this theme.

 

The album’s atmospheric opener, ‘Exotic Dancers Wanted’ is a perfect example of the aforementioned theme. The title itself conjures the image of a badly pinned advert on the outside of a slightly drab dancing club. Elements of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The Wrestler’ and the poetic storytelling of Bob Dylan can be found here. Bradshaw’s lyrical camera drifts from punter to punter as their mini biographies are laid before the listener. The gentle, lapping almost lazy summer's day rhythm and tinkling piano provides the light backdrop for the sordid stories within. Parallels are drawn between the club and the world outside, from which the clientele are desperate to escape, if only for a few hours. The heady, alcohol soaked ambience is captured in the lyric: “Freddie in the front row, not quite yet a man, got the hots for Dixie, he’s drinkin’ it all in. Wonders: will I ever get to tell the dancers from the dance?” Bradshaw is sympathetic to the dancers, though candid about the reality of the club that they need the punters as much as the punters need the dancers “Her pockets filled with dollar bills a flask of whiskey and some pills. Hell, even she can’t tell the dancers from the dance…”

 

‘Meet me’ shares territory with Richard Hawley’s ‘Coles Corner’, albeit a different take on a similar theme - the heartbreaking search for companionship in the faceless metropolis. The endless list of meeting locations, suggesting new dates each time, indicates each one in turn has failed to develop to anything more than a one off encounter. “...meet me downtown, any place, anytime…” The heartfelt lyric is given greater gravitas by Andrew Stern’s sweeping guitar. The eagerness for intimacy and self sacrifice to find it is all too evident “I’ll be waiting for you, don’t you worry. I’ll be there before you if I hurry...Eastside, Westside, anyplace you got in mind. Tell me when, tell me where. I’ll be there.”

‘Call It What You Will’ opens with a drumbeat reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s take on ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. This track would not sound out of place on Sting’s seminal ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’. A haunting and standout track, there are shades of John Martyn to Bradshaw’s vocal which is backed by beautiful harmonies from Britt Connors and the gentle tumbling piano solo of James Rohr. “Things got a little stormy up in the sky…” the turbulent relationship laid bare in the lyrics is metaphorically represented by the moon (she) and the sun (he) and the unravelling of a once harmonious union. As with the timeless battle between the moon and the sun for precedence, she has been exhausted by the relentless challenge of the partnership “The moon is sad and frazzled, she’s not the fightin’ kind. She’s worn out by his cruel and fiery ways...”. While the conflict seems inescapable the moon (she) longs for release “You can call it what you will, but I can’t wait until it’s over.”

 

‘Assumptions’ shares some of its DNA with Pete Droge and the Sinners “Beautiful Girl”, with Bradshaw’s vocal recalling Guy Garvey at his most tender. It is a companion piece to ‘Meet Me’ yet, rather than the self sacrifice seen in that song, here our protagonist has more self preservation. “And you won’t understand how meticulous plans come to nothing, how assumptions are made, and how you must go on alone.” The close harmonies in the chorus give way to a glorious guitar solo in the bridge. It is an ode to lost love and what could have been. “Here’s to the journey, that was not ours to take…” Gently moving, profound and will have fans searching out the repeat button, time and again.

 

‘Weight of the World’ opens with a Beatle-esque ‘Day Tripper’ guitar solo; full throttle rock with Mark Knopfler echoed in Bradshaw’s effortlessly commanding vocal. A foot tapping, jukebox favourite celebrating truckers, a love affair with insomnia and the wee hours of the morning. “Clock tells me it’s three o three, and I’ve been lyin’ here prayin’ I’d see the daylight...I’m carrying the weight, ferrying the freight, carrying the weight of the world.” It is dancefloor friendly and no doubt the staple of live sets with searing electric guitar and infectious drumming of Mike Connors. Only thing is at only 2.32 it is over much too soon!

 

In stark contrast, it is followed by the beautiful ‘Stella’. Again, there are hints of Richard Hawley here and the lush teenage dream of Rick Nelson’s ‘Lonesome Town’. It is an unapologetically romantic serenade to the lady of the title and the impact she has had on our protagonist; “I came outta’ my shell for ya, now you see I am dancin’ too.” The lyric encompasses giving all of yourself to one person and falling hopelessly in love. “Feelin’ light on my feet ‘round ya, Stella. Maybe we can find the beat together, one step away, Stella. What do you say, Stella. Take my hand and lead me there where you are.” This track is shortly followed by its bookend - ‘Material For The Blues’. It is a lullaby marking the creativity sparked by solitude, yet is similarly romantic. The storyteller hides the unfulfilled relationships and half forgotten dates behind a firm exterior and draws on this emotional fuel for his craft. “There are no marks, you see no bruise, my world’s a silent house filled with material for the blues.”

 

Regarding the album’s title Bradshaw himself states: “[As echoes] these songs travel forwards and backwards at the same time...backwards to the folk and country music that first inspired me to sing and write songs, and forwards into more complex, layered sounds I encountered in Berklee.” ‘American Echoes’ is an important crossroads for Bradshaw; like a well thumbed journal, it lays down a rich melting pot of collated ideas and signals the beginning of a new stage in his musical journey. Based on this remarkable collection of songs, fans of Americana and Country should watch Bradshaw’s next step with great anticipation.

 

Review by Jon Amer.

 

 

from Blues And More Again 10/12/17:

Albums where every track is of estimable quality, with no filler don’t come along too often, but American Echoes more than satisfies these enjoyment criteria.

On this, his seventh studio album, Bob Bradshaw corrals together the diverse human experiences of misfits and everyday blue-collar protagonists, well-crafted insightful lyrics and memorable melodies, entirely from the mere eleven notes available to him. All the while, he demonstrates that he has mastered the songwriter’s art of narrating personal, or imagined personal dramas that resonate with recognisable universal experience.

We share his tale of a reluctant but resourceful entertainer and her detachment from the sleazy clientele, in ‘Exotic Dancers Wanted’, and experience the finely-tooled radio-friendly pop of 'Meet Me’ and 'The Assumptions We Make'. And whilst there is thoughtful minor key brooding in 'Call It What You Will', Bradshaw’s wry sentiment comes to the fore in 'Material For The Blues', ‘My Double And I’ and 'Workin' On My Protest Song’, the latter’s swinging chorus an infectious sing-along.

And if the earworm ‘Oh Brother’ and waltz-time ‘Stella’ aren’t written from personal experience, Bradshaw has the well-developed dramatic gift of making the listener believe that they most definitely are.

There’s a deliberate spaciousness about the recording, Bradshaw’s own production allowing the songs the air needed to be heard with welcome clarity. A word of praise too for his studio band. Little flourishes like Andy Santospago’s baritone guitar on 'The Assumptions We Make', and understated rock out as 'Workin' On My Protest Song’ concludes, add depth and flavour, as does James Rohr’s perfectly-structured and executed piano coda as ‘Call It What You Will’ edges to its glorious fade.

Contemporary troubadours such as Tom Russell, Ben Rogers and Nathan Bell excel in the creation and performance of such narratives, and the recorded legacy of the great Greg Trooper comforts us that we lived in his time. Bob Bradshaw deserves to be mentioned in that company.

 

From 'Maximum Volume Music'  10/10/17:

Reviewing the recent – and brilliant – Tom Russell record, MV was struck by how exciting his life was compared to our own. The same is true of Bob Bradshaw. An Irishman who moved to America a quarter of a century ago, he was a self-taught player who decided in his 40s to enrol in the Berklee School of music (from where he graduated with a degree in Professional Music in 2009). These songs amount to his observations on life for the last 25 years.

Like all the great songwriters, Bradshaw can mould these experiences into something illuminating and give them a universal quality. There is something of the dark Tom Waits world about “Exotic Dancers Wanted” which opens this in suitably sparse and laid-back manner. Allied to this, although we might not be in that bar, then there is someone in every bar in the world who is a “sad daddy with a bad case of lonely, checking out the field, maybe find himself a honey.”

An attention to imagery is all important here. The acoustic based “I’ll Be Waiting” shimmers on the back of a catchy hook, but still dots the I’s and crosses the t’s: “meet me at the Staten Island ferry, bring your heavy coat.” Somehow gives this a more personal side than most can manage.

“Call It What You Will” occupies some darker back alley, while “The Assumptions That We Make” is reminiscent of the work of the wonderful Stephen Fearing, but bursts into life with a quite superb – and unexpected – guitar solo.

There is a real skill and flourish in these words. “Workin’ On My Protest Song” is full of Paul Simon-isms and is an erudite critique of those that think a song can change the world these days: “A few more hours and I’ll take my banjo out” offers its hook, “mark my words I’ll show them what its all about – I’ll stop them in their tracks”. It is a fine example of the different angle that Bradshaw finds for his music.

It is striking too, just how many styles Bradshaw finds time for in the 12 songs. “A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing” is a mighty slab of Americana, with its violin adding a mournful quality. “The Weight Of The World” on the other hand is riotous and full on Southern Rock n Roll, and “Stella” is a stripped down and gorgeous love song.

It is when Bradshaw really lets himself go that “….Echoes” is at its best. “My Double And I” is bluesy jazz with a nod to his fellow Irishman Paul Brady with genuinely funny lyrics, and there is some deep-rooted sadness about “Material For The Blues” which is perfect for those moments when you are scrolling through your phone book looking for anyone who might be awake at 2am.

The guest musicians that Bradshaw is able to use on the album do a fine job too. Andrew Stern’s slide guitar skill elevates “O Brother” to some other plain, and “Old Soldiers” similarly benefits from the wonderfully picked out banjo of Andy Santospago.

It is fitting that an album that begins in a seedy bar ends on the battlefield, because all human life and beyond is here on a diverse and fine record. As much as these are Bradshaw’s own “American Echoes” from his time over the pond, they have resonance for everyone, wherever they may be.

Rating 8/10

 

 From 'Music Riot' 10/10/17:

It’s a musical ‘all you can eat’ buffet; a long-time outsider’s view of American popular music exploring some of the high protein meat dishes, but meandering through some of the more delicately flavoured and textured dishes as well. To add to the complexity, it’s a set of songs created by a self-taught musician who also happens to have studied for a popular music degree. Sophistication and raw rock power are both on the menu for this musical feast. On his previous album, “Whatever You Wanted”, Bob Bradshaw saved the best (in my opinion) for last, closing the album with the wonderful road song, “The Long Ride Home”. On “American Echoes”, he opens with the lovely, acutely-observed “Exotic Dancers Wanted”; all of smalltown America is there as he melds Tom Waits with Bob Seger’s “Mainstreet” to create a quiet classic of a song about desperation, drugs, booze and pole-dancing. He even throws in a W.B. Yeats reference.

To keep the culinary metaphor on the boil, “American Echoes” is a smorgasbord of musical stylings, or a pick ‘n’ mix if prosaic is your preference. It ranges all the way from the out and out rocker “Weight of the World”, with its huge riff, two guitars and The Who stylings to the acoustic ballad “Stella” with a Chris Isaak guitar sound and a vocal that’s a dead ringer for Elvis Costello in lower-register ballad mode.

There’s a bit of lyrical invention as well, to match the musical melange. “My Double and I” is a modern take on the Jekyll and Hyde theme matched up with a laid-back New Orleans jazz groove (with a nod towards Steely Dan’s “East St Louis Toodle-oo”), while “Working on My Protest Song” combines the kind of rhythms Paul Simon discovered in Africa with a mildly sarcastic dig at musicians who opportunistically appropriate protest movements for their ends. And the list goes on.

The bottom line is that Bob Bradshaw has produced another very fine album indeed. “American Echoes” is packed with great lyrical and musical ideas and gets better with repeated plays. 

from Folkwords 8/16/16

"I’ll come clean right at the start, ever since I first heard that sparse minimalist music and those distinctive, laid back rangy vocals, I’ve been an admirer of Bob Bradshaw’s songs. So when ‘American Echoes’ (his seventh studio album) arrived it was bound to hold my attention. With inspiration pulled from country and folk, bluegrass and blues, a soupcon of jazz and barrel-loads of Americana understanding, it’s a collection of songs written with a deep understanding of its subjects with the clarity of a foreigner in his adopted country. That’s the skill-set of this Irish-born, Boston-based singer-songwriter.american-echoes album cover

The themes run through the amalgam of hopes and dreams, losers and winners, realistic views on love and perceptive self-appraisal. As with all Bradshaw’s albums the longer you engage the more you identify with his observations and share in his world view. Opening with ‘Exotic Dancers Wanted’ the hook is in from the first, then he reels you further in through ‘The Assumptions We Make’ and the perceptive ‘A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing’. The ‘rootsy’ feel is something you could reach out and touch in songs like ‘Weight of the World’ and ‘My Double and I’, while the mournful cry of ‘O Brother’ hits it perfectly." - Tom Franks

great review in Dutch but Isn't find a way to translate it coherently: from Rootstime NL, 9/1/17 (as far as I can tell “voortreffelijke nieuwe plaat” means “outstanding new album”...)

Op de foto die het ingesloten tekstboekje van de cd “American Echoes” van Bob Bradshaw siert, lijkt deze folkrockzanger en songschrijver gewoon een ‘boy next door’ of ‘jongen van hiernaast’ te zijn. Met bluejeans en een zwart T-shirt zit hij op een krukje en tokkelt hij wat op een akoestische gitaar. Misschien is deze in het Ierse Cork geboren muzikant ook een gewone, eenvoudige kerel die intussen al een mid-vijftiger is, graag liedjes schrijft en zingt en verder met rust gelaten wil worden.

Vier jaar geleden hoorden wij bij ‘Rootstime’ voor het eerst van deze Bob Bradshaw via zijn toen uitgebrachte soloplaat “Home”, een album dat hij in de Amerikaanse stad Boston opnam waar hij zich sinds 2003 heeft gevestigd. Voorafgaand had hij in 2008 echter nog een akoestisch album “Bag Of Knives” samen met Chad Manning opgenomen en in 2015 volgde ook nog zijn meest recente soloplaat “Whatever You Wanted”.

Over “Whatever You Wanted “schreven we in 2015 dat de muziek van Bob Bradshaw voornamelijk Americana-liedjes waren die referentiepunten hebben naar de country soul, western swing, rootsrock en folkballads. Zijn eind oktober verschijnende nieuwste album “American Echoes” kan met eenzelfde definitie door het leven gaan. Twaalf nieuwe eigen composities nemen de luisteraars mee in de verhalen die Bob Bradshaw als een echte troubadour in deze liedjes wil vertellen. Zijn verleden als journalist in Ierland zou hiervoor wel eens de directe aanleiding geweest kunnen zijn.

Tijdens de beluistering van deze overigens voortreffelijke nieuwe plaat moeten we toch een aantal keren denken aan vergelijkbare artiesten als Randy Newman, John Hiatt, John Prine of Townes Van Zandt, stuk voor stuk muzikanten die ook altijd op rustige ‘laid back’-wijze hun verhaal via een song vertellen. Openingstrack “Exotic Dancers Wanted” grijpt meteen nadrukkelijk naar uw aandacht en die blijft Bob Bradshaw behouden doorheen de resterende elf liedjes op “American Echoes”. Het op bijgaande video te beluisteren liedje “Meet Me” zal u duidelijk maken wat we hiermee bedoelen.

“The Assumptions We Make”, de in duetvorm met zangeres Annie Lynch gebrachte songs “Workin’ On My Protest Song” en “A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing” en de minimalistisch georkestreerde ballads “Stella”, “Material For The Blues”, “O Brother” en “Old Soldiers” zijn onze favoriete tracks. Maar u mag van ons gerust alle twaalf nummers uit “American Echoes” van Bob Bradshaw nog eens opnieuw via de boxen laten weerklinken, hoor.

great review in Flemish but I can't find a way to translate it properly. Put it in Google Translate and have fun with it: from Altcountry Belgium, (4.5 out of 5 stars) 9/13/17 ( “ronduit sublieme drinklied” = “absolutely sublime drinking song” I gather, while “superknappe plaat” is either a “super knock-out record” or a “super-handsome plate”...)

Onder de tray van het Bob Bradshaws nieuwe album omhullende digipack prijkt er een knappe zwart-witfoto van een door een aardig desolaat ogend uitgestrekt landschap lopende spoorweg. En dat blijkt op de keper beschouwd helemaal geen toeval. Op zijn inmiddels toch ook al zevende studioplaat trakteert de al een kleine eeuwigheid in de States residerende Ier ons immers op een dozijn verhalen die hem door de jaren heen bijbleven van zijn vele trips doorheen zijn wahlheimat. “American Echoes” dus.

En die brengt de beste man in beurtelings met ingrediënten uit genres als onder meer pop, folk, country, bluegrass en blues ontleende Americanadeunen. Veelal (maar zeker niet uitsluitend) van het eerder zachtere type. Van het soort dat je kameraadschappelijk onder de arm neemt en vraagt om even te gaan zitten en te luisteren. Zoals ook al op voorgangers “Home” (2013) en “Whatever You Wanted” (2015) eigenlijk. Als je al één van die beide platen in huis zou hebben, dan kan je eigenlijk gewoon blind overgaan tot een aanschaf van “American Echoes”. Ook dat album zal je dan immers niet ontgoochelen.

Van het ronduit sublieme drinklied “A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing” over het pittig rockende “Weight Of The World” tot love song “Stella”, van het Waitsiaans jazzy “My Double And I” over het met een snuif exotica gekruide “Workin’ On My Protest Song” tot de old-timey afsluiter “Old Soldiers” en dan vergeten we er nog wel enkele, dit zijn echt wel topsongs! En “American Echoes” al bij al gewoon ook een superknappe plaat. Van harte aan te bevelen wat ons betreft aan liefhebbers van het materiaal van enigszins vergelijkbare artiesten als een Darden Smith, een Robert Earl Keen, een Fred Eaglesmith en een Joe Henry in zijn beginjaren.

from DonAnd Sheryls Bluesblog 9/11/1I

Irish-born Bob Bradshaw has been a Boston resident since 2003, but, he’s been everywhere, man, busking on the streets of Europe, as well as NYC and Frisco before finally settling in Massachusetts.  Obviously, he’s seen a lot, and, thru his studies at Berklee, he’s honed his songwriting to make his characters people that we can all relate to.  This is especially true on his seventh studio album, “American Echoes,” for Fluke Records.  This all-original album combines his passion for folk, blues, and bluegrass with that innate ability to tell a cool story in five minutes’ time.

His characters are all of us–hopeless dreamers, lovers, saints, and sinners, and everyone in between.  “Meet Me” name-checks many NYC landmarks and turns them into places for a romantic rendezvous, for “anyplace, anytime, I’ll be there!”  The denizens of The Keystone Bar And Grill offer up the sage advice, over a few pints, that “a cup of tea won’t make you sing, and A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing.”  “Stella” is a story of true love between aging lovers set to waltz time, while the set closes on a “marching beat,”  with the story of the bravery and chivalry of Civil War soldiers, “Old Soldiers never die–they just fade away.”  This one has fiddle from Chad Manning and banjo from Andy Santospago, and the traditional instruments add to the ambience of this cut.

We had two favorites, too.  The set starts with “Exotic Dancers Wanted,” and you can almost see the grainy, black-and-white film noir of the ladies and their clientele,  as the longer they ply their trade, the more they become unable to “tell the dancers from the dance.”  And, a tongue-in-cheek nod to Dylan and the Sixties finds Bob ducking “mushroom clouds” and “tommy guns,” all the while “Workin’ On My Protest Song!”   This one has a rich, Garcia-era Dead vibe, set over a quirky time pattern that woulda been right at home during the folk boom.

On “American Echoes,” Bob Bradshaw comes full-circle.  These songs trace the history of the music that first inspired Bob, and evolve into the layered arrangements he studied at Berklee.  This is indeed an aural treat!

from Blogcritics.org 8/16/17

"When William Butler Yeats wrote the poem “Among School Children,” I wonder if he imagined how deeply its closing line “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” would percolate into the wider culture. I do feel fairly safe in assuming he didn’t imagine it in a strip-club context. But that’s where Bob Bradshaw references the line in “Exotic Dancers Wanted,” the opening track of his thoughtful seventh album American Echoes.

The song sets an easygoing tone for this collection of deeply imagined folk-pop tunes, most charged with a deceptively hazy, lazy vibe that suggests the cloudy strains of the early ’70s. There’s a little psychedelia, a little California country-western, a little roots-rock (“Weight of the World”), a spadeful of New York City grit. But there’s also a European flavor in the way the melody sneaks in to “Meet Me,” one of the album’s stellar tracks. And the lyrics of the barroom ditty “A Bird Never Flew on Just One Wing” feel right at home sung by an Irish-born, Boston-based singer-songwriter, while the music evokes the Brit-folk of Richard Thompson.

Bradshaw sounds a bit like Elvis Costello on the silvery folk-waltz “Stella” and on the bluesy, old-timey “My Double and I,” the latter echoing Costello’s “Let ’em Dangle.” Hendrix-esque slide guitar and wry, minimalist lyrics help make “O Brother” a compact gem.

Comparisons are fun for a reviewer to come up with. But Bradshaw has developed a distinctive voice of his own over an extensive career. American Echoes shows a singer, songwriter, and bandleader in full command of his muse." - Jon Sobel

from Midwest Record 8/11/17

"Some people have it and some people don't. A charming album of songs about life's loveable losers as told by a mature and foreign born eye, this set of left field Americana is musically on point in a most pleasing way providing the setting for lyrics that you often times don't believe you're hearing. A first rate recording that raises the songwriter bar, all I can say is Bradshaw has the shining and knows how to capture lightening in a bottle. Well done."

COMING SOON!!!

COMING SOON!!!

 

Airplay for 'American Echoes' in late 2017:

Exotic Dancers Wanted – Folk Renaissance Radio Show, w/Abby Parks 11/12/17

The Assumptions We Make - Folk Renaissance Radio Show, w/Abby Parks, 10/15/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted - Kippenvel, RTV Katwijk (NL), 11/7/17

Meet Me – AmericanRadio NL, Paul Van Gelder, 11/12/17

Material For The Blues – Country & Roots Show w/Michael Hingston, Radio Verulam, 11/13/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted – Ralph On The Radio, Crystal FM, 11/7/17

Workin’ On My Protest Song, Tiompan, BBC Radio nan Gaidheal, 11/3/17

My Double And I – WorldBeatUK w/Glyn Phillips, 10/2317

The Assumptions We Make – Inernational Americana Music Show (Michael Park), 10/24/17

Weight Of The World – Lost Highway (Doug Gesler), WMBR, 10/21/17

Workin' On My Protest Song – WorldBeatUK (Glyn Phillips) Brum Radio/Mixcloud, 10/16/17

Call It What You Will – An Ghaelach Ghorm, RTE Raidio Na Gaeltachta, 10/21/17

Meet Me – Acoustic Blues Club Podcast/Kansas Online Radio, 10/18/17

The Assumptions We Make – Jason Titley Radio Show UK, 10/17/17

My Double And I – BluesNRoots Corner, Radio Duivenstraat (NL), 10/8/17

Call It What You Will – FolkRoots Show (Martin Bridgeman) KCLR Ireland, 10/17/17

Stella – Music Routes, Radio Summerhall (Edinburgh), 10/16/17

Material For The Blues – After Midnight (Noel Casey), Dublin City FM, 10/16/17

Meet Me – Landslide, RTV Purmerend (NL), 10/22/17

A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing – Roots Freeway, RTE Radio 1, 8/26/17

Old Soldiers – Songriver, 104.1FM, NL, 10/13/17

Weight Of The World – Music Routes, Radio Summerhill (Edinburgh), 10/11/17

O Brother – Diana Schad/The Night Nurse Show, Glasgow, 10/11/17

The Assumptions We Make - Music Routes, Radio Summerhill (Edinburgh), 10/4/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted - Songriver, 104.1FM, NL, 10/6/17

Old Soldiers – For Folk's Sake, Drive 105.3FM, Derry, 10/3/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted - After Midnight (Noel Casey), Dublin City FM, 10/2/17

Old Soldiers – Blues and Friends, Baarn FM (NL), 10/2/17

Weight Of The World – Russell Hill's Country Music Show, Express FM, 10/1/17

A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing - Blues & Root Radio, 9/27/17

Call It What You Will - Music Routes, Radio Summerhall, Edinburgh, 9/27.17

Material For The Blues - Criffel Creek Alive Radio, Dumfries and Chesire, UK, 10/1/17

Workin' On My Protest Song - The Country Music Show, BCFM Radio, Bristol, UK, 9/28/17

Old Soldiers, O Brother – For Folk's Sake, Drive 105.3 (N. Ireland) 9/26/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted – CountryFile, Havenstad Fm (NL), 9/24/17

A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing – Roots & Fusion, Pure Radio 107.8FM (UK), 8/23/17

Weight Of The World – Hillbilly Rockhouse, Berlin, 8/31/17

Meet Me – Landslide, (NL) 9/21, 9/24, 9/27/17

Call It What You Will – NightTrain, Dublin City FM, 9/13/17

Workin' On My Protest Song – Gonzo's Return, 40Up Radio, (NL), 9/25/17

Workin' On My Protest Song – Roots, Radio Ems-Vechte-Welle, Germany, 9/12/17

Workin' On My Protest Song, My Double and I, O Brother – TheBluesHour, Severn FM, UK, 9/25/17

Stella - Harky In English (Paul Van Gelder) NL, 9/3/17

A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing - After Midnight, Dublin FM, 9/18/17

Workin' On My Protest Song - The Miller Tells Her Tale, Scotland, 9/17/17

Weight Of The World - Rolf's Pladdekaddong - Radio RheinWelle 92,5, Wiesbaden, Germany, 9/1/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted - Blueprint, Radio RTV1 (Netherlands), 9/17/17

Material For The Blues – For The Sake Of The Song, Omroep Vlaardingen (NL), 9/6/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted – NightTrain, Dublin City FM, 9/6/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted - Acoustic Blues Club, Kansas City Online Radio, 9/6/17

The Assumptions We Make – Thunder Road (Dolf Jansen) NPO Radio 2, (NL), 9/9/17

A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing/Exotic Dancers Wanted – Celtic Heartbeat, BBC Radio Wales, 9/3/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted – Gonzo’s Return, 40Up Radio (NL), 9/7/17

Weight Of The World – Gonzo’s Return, 40Up Radio (NL), 8/31/17

A Bird never Flew on Just One Wing - Friends In Low Places, BeyondRadio UK, 8/27/17

Workin’ On My Protest Song – Thunder Road (Dolf Jansen) NPO Radio 2, (NL), 8/26/17

Meet Me – After Midnight, Dublin City FM, 9/4/17

Material For The Blues – Folkal Point, Blues and Roots Radio, 9/14/17

Material For the Blues – Beale Street, Radio Mol, Belgium, 8/3/17

The Assumptions We Make – Music Routes, Radio Summerhall, Edinburgh, 8/23/17

My Double and I, O Brother – BluesnRoots Corner, Netherlands, 8/27/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted – Gonzo's Return, 40Up Radio, Netherlands, 8/28/17

Workin' On My Protest Song – An Ghealach Ghorm, RTE, 8/26/17

Call It What You Will - Crooked Road, Swindon 105.5, UK, 8/31/17

Workin' On My Protest Song – AmericanRadioNl, Paul van Gelder, 8/23/17

Exotic Dancers Wanted – BBC Radio Scotland, Iain Anderson Show, 8/21/17

A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing - Music Routes, Radio Summerhall, Edinburgh, 8/16/17