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The Dang-it Bobbys | Big Trouble

album review by Olaya Barr

The Dang-it Bobbys | Big Trouble

The Dang-it Bobbys' second album, Big Trouble, is Americana music at its finest; the songs are both modern with entertaining, poignant lyrics, and classic with their intricate string-picking, articulate harmonies, and smooth melodies. The album is a rich blend, flirting with lament and nostalgia, an ode to emotional folk and country, hoppy and bouncy- commemorating the roots of bluegrass and rockabilly.

The Dang-it Bobby's, formed by Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Kris Bauman and guitarist Luca Benedetti, has guests Daniel Marcus on mandolin, Alan Grubner on fiddle, Dave Burnett on drums, Chris Higgins on bass, and Todd Livingston on resonator guitar. These musicians have stellar energy together and each track has been beautifully mixed to make the most of each talent.

One of the most charming qualities of Big Trouble is the way the musicians juxtapose the ironic with upbeat tunes. In the first track, "Middle Ground", the banjo, flittering fiddle and pop progressions sound like the type of song that would swoon 14 year olds at a hoedown or pumpkin patch; but listen to the lyrics and you hear Bauman is cheerfully singing about "shots of Bacardi," leading to "waking up in someone else's bed…" and ways to get back at your boss ("maybe you'll accost him!"). The subject matter throughout the album revolves around relevant and laughable themes: songs about being "an American jerk, aka 'Gringo'", and detesting your job where you sit "at your desk at a comfortable 72 degrees." One wouldn't expect such humorous lyrics paired with such rotund guitar riffs, hooting melodicas and fiddles. This irony is admirable and keeps the listeners on their feet throughout the album.

The Dang-it Bobby's do as great of a job with their playful songs as they do with their instrumental ones. The two solely instrumental tracks are filled with hoppy volume and honky tonk influences. The natural talent here transports the listener to a rocking chair on the front porch of in the humid south, cold lemonade in hand. The quick pitter-patter of scattered notes, and the mounting tension and release formed with the string instruments are a great example of the jubilance found throughout Big Trouble.

With the slower, more sentimental songs, it's a hit or miss. Although every note seems to arrive effortlessly and perfectly, and harmonies layered with graceful precision, songs like "Hey Guess What" and "Heading Out" are not too memorable. Not because of the slow tempo, but rather because they feel a bit drowsy and lifeless, sappy, and overly-sweetened; the swings and sways seem too tame and conventional. The thought "I feel like I've heard this before..." may pop in your head. Bauman's sweet-sounding voice parallels closely the conventions of pop singer-songwriters like Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and Jack Johnson.

However, Bauman's voice and delicacy do just the trick to elevate the dreamy "My Michelle", "Somehow", and "I know, I know, I know"; the latter reminiscent of a warmer, more animated Bon Iver. Benedetti’s cascading guitar and trickling southern twang add a warmth and southern feel to the melancholic echoes.

Overall, the tracks are short, catchy, and to-the-point, which makes for a rewarding and varied album. The voice is a charmer, the melodies themselves aren't intrusive or too provocative, (no lengthy solos to sidetrack the listener), and the crisp jingle jangle of each instrument releases positive energy.

Bottom line: it’s a playful and refined melting pot of American music.






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