Bobby Lee “Endless Skyways”

Tompkins Square Records, 2023

Kosmiche Country from Sheffield.

Bobby Lee’s third album finds this Sheffield based musician diving further into the outmost reaches of cosmic Americana music, taking on the fledgling tag of ambient Americana and just about shredding it on the nine instrumentals on display here.

Lee might cite the likes of J.J. Cale and Ry Cooder as inspiration (and there’s certainly an element of Cooder’s soundtrack work to be heard in the eight minutes of ‘Thunder Travelling To Loftier Mountain Heights’) but his psychedelic concoctions also contain liberal doses of krautrock (allowing for a rare joke to be read in the accompanying PR blurb which calls it Kosmiche Country or Neu Riders of The Purple Sage, if you will) along with glimpses of the Saharan blues rock of Tiniwaren. It’s a heady mix.

When it works it’s quite excellent. The opening track, ‘Reds For A Blue Planet’ conjures up torrid desert heat- the American south west meeting Saharan Africa by way of Mars – but it’s eclipsed by the following epic,’ Impregnated By Drops Of Rainbow’ which is powered by the Teutonic percussion (by Mojave 3’s Ian McCutcheon) while glistening pedal steel from Joe Harvey-Whyte duels with Lee’s guitars. ‘Folsom Point Blues’, the closing track is perhaps the most ambient number here, again reminding one of Cooder along with a nod to Brian Eno’s ‘Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks’.

Elsewhere, Lee is less sure-footed. ‘The HR Manager’s Beautiful Daughter’ (possibly a jokey allusion to The Incredible String Band’s ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’) has a repetitive Celtic sounding riff which John Martyn did far better many moons ago. ‘Acid Grassland’ meanwhile has a hokey clip clop rhythm which might be meant to evoke Morricone but is soon lost amidst the layers and layers of guitars laid upon the track. That said, ‘Gnostic Loners’, the second last track, is back to the earlier standards of the record as it drifts quite wonderfully over its six and a half minutes. Close your eyes and think of drifting over the Grand Canyon,  borne aloft by the warmth it generates.

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About Paul Kerr 444 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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