Irish-born, Boston-based Bob Bradshaw has been exploring many facets of Americana music in the thirty years he’s lived in the States – from the Texas singer-songwriters he strives to emulate to the roots-rock he plays in bar bands any night of the week.
Bradshaw’s seventh studio album ‘American Echoes’ was released in late 2017 to rave reviews and heavy airplay around the world. His sixth collection of original songs ‘Whatever You Wanted’ was named as one of the best Americana/Country albums of 2015 by the Telegraph UK.
Bob Bradshaw’s new album ‘Queen of The West’ is a fever dream – thirteen cross-connected songs in which a small cast of characters explore issues of identity, struggle with loss, and – as in all the best westerns – seek redemption. The ‘Queen Of The West’ herself - Ruby Black - is both a gun-toting femme fatale and an anguished mother pleading with the saints for the life of her son.
There’s heartache and humor aplenty in these stories with their allusions to western notions of the outlaw, and the quest for faith through religion. Mining parallels between the west of Bradshaw’s native Ireland, and the frontiers of the American west, ‘Queen Of The West’ is, at its core, a concept album but it is a concept that sneaks up on listeners as the scenes unfold. Even though the songs are told through the same characters, each stand-alone story becomes a piece of a quilt which, stitched together, tells a broader narrative.
With the warm timbre of his voice - and the rootsy pedal-steel, fiddle and guitar-twang instrumentation - the songs on ‘Queen Of The West’ are such richly textured Americana you’d suspect Bradshaw hails from Austin, not Cork. For his fourth album of original songs since earning a degree from the Berklee School of Music, he has enlisted long-time collaborators Scoop McGuire, Andrew Stern, Andy Santospago and Chad Manning, as well as top artists from his adopted Boston, including Duke Levine, James Rohr, Kris Delmhorst, Dave Westner, Annie Lynch, Britt Connors, Ed Lucie and Mike Connors.
‘Queen Of The West’ was produced by Bob Bradshaw at Woolly Mammoth Sound and Side Hill Studio, Waltham, MA in late 2018 and early 2019.
Writing in No Depression Frank Gutch jr said of ‘American Echoes’: “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.” 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 Musicwrote: “Like all great songwriters, Bradshaw can mold 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 Recordwrites: “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.”