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A warm charm

Dirty Pond Songs
Dirty Pond Songs
By Bobby Long

Self-released: 2009

Buy it now

This review first appeared in Turbula in August 2009.

For a guy who doesn't have a great physical voice, Bobby Long is a remarkably powerful singer – mostly accompanying himself only with acoustic guitar and occasional harmonica on his new studio CD.

Like some of the iconic '60s folk-singers the London-based Long clearly is modeling his style after, he frames his singing in the center of the sound mix so you can't help but focus on it. Rough at the edges, a touch hoarse, his voice would nevertheless command your attention even were it buried in a mix of eletronic instruments. There's a plaintive urgency to his singing that, coupled to the minimalist melodicism of his 10 songs here, makes it more than little like listening to vintage Ramblin' Jack Elliott or Dave Van Ronk.

Part of the charm of his voice is its deep register and resonant tone. But he also sings with real presence, with charisma, while his stories beguile and the music itself has a simple urgency. The combination makes for one of those rare listening experiences that, even off a recording, has the feel of an event – one you'll want to revisit.