Title - 'Left Of Center'
Artist - Bob Beland
For those not in the know, Bob Beland is a 64 year-old renowned LA singer/songwriter southpaw who is releasing his new album, his fourth now Left Of Center on his own independent label Wrong Way Works!
Having performed in bands such as Southpaw, Bates Motel, The Fury and more, and having written and recorded original music from 1973 to the present, and having chosen not to remain in the band (Bates Motel) when they were chosen to open for Sparks, he got his first solo record deal in 1980, and so continued his diverse musical career some four decades on.
We kick off with some drums (from the late David Beebe), and then atop a gentle undercurrent of African-influenced back beats (and lyrical answer backs), Beland brings forth "It's Alright With Me, Mr. Bob". An original analog recording from 1983, it's backed with the upbeat, and freeflowing pop bounce of "Off The Handle." The 70's hipsway guitar vibe of "The Lost Highway", for me one of the best tracks on this new album, ensure that you are by now, even just three songs in, highly invested in the album; interested to see where it goes. Possibly an inside joke to his 1993 album Amnesia Lane, regardless, the song is devilishly good.
The guitar flop-bounce of "Some Friends Of Mine" ("Loose change underneath the seat, is always a special kind of treat") quickly turns into a power track. Soaring in all directions, slides incorporated for good measure, even including a fake fade out, it's another highlight that showcases Beland's grounded lyrical sensibilities. That's followed by the hop-skip of "It'll Take Overtime", a track where, for perhaps the first time on the album, Beland's vocals are more naked than before.
The storytelling honky tonk of "Sloppy Joe" (a salute to Leiber & Stoller) is up next and features a backwater appeal to it that's hard to stop yourself from foot-tappin' to midway through, and that's followed by the slow-poke "Ain't Goin' Back To That", and then the thought-provoking observations of "Cold". Complete with harmony vocals from singer/songwriter Dan Navarro, it flows beautifully.
Another highlight is the lovely ballad "Who'll Save The World?", a poignant look at today's society and how we seem to say a lot of things, without actually moving forward, and then the album is rounded out by the short, Kurtzweil piano ballad 'One Bright Burning'.
Finally, within the liner notes, Beland pays special thanks and appreciation to Marty Korth, Dale Mitchell, Willie McEachern, The Legendary Fontenelle DuClaw, Bobby Pickett and Dan Navarro for their time and talents, to Daniel Simon for going the extra mile(s) and to Len Horowitz for the hospitality and entertainment.
'Left Of Center' Digital Download Purchase Link