2014-07-17 / Around Town

Spotlight on Music

Bob Kendall Launches New Songs
By Julian Ciany

Bob Kendall knows a great tune when he writes one. “Most of the songs I write are about an idea, and my job is to get that idea into words.” His resumé of original music is a testament to his powers of songwriting and its incredibly visceral human connection. Since the 80s, he has been very active in the New England music scene. From the underground Boston band Lifeboat to his solo work today, Kendall, 52, has never put music on the back burner. This year is bringing him some well-deserved satisfaction. With a brand new album and a spectacular release show to support it, he is enjoying a new phase in his musical career.

Kendall isn’t afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve. He worships The Velvet Underground, but also looks to catalogs of artists such as Gram Parsons and Steve Earle for inspiration. His new record is a steadfast tribute to the styles that shape his musical identity, a reflection of the iconic rock ‘n roll/Americana crossover. The albumn’s opener “Stay,” is a bouncy and infectiously catchy power-pop track with adamant and resolute lyrics. Other songs like “Long Road” and “Dazed” highlight an extensive love of Brit pop heroes The Kinks and The Beatles. The lead guitar in each emulates a crisp and honorable interpretation of some of George Harrison’s best moments.

The record’s masterpiece comes five songs in – “Rage” is a cry of emotion. It was partially inspired by past social work Kendall has done with men and women arrested for domestic violence. “I have always been fascinated by rage, by both the ability and inability of people to control it.” The interlocking of multiple guitar parts combined with blasts of trumpet, keyboards, and drums captures this idea and explores the boundaries of this complex human emotion.

Kendall recalls some of the struggles in making this soundtrack versus his previous one, “Midnight Flower.” Instead of recording in his backyard like before, he brought in longtime friend Paul Kolderie to produce it, and the band went to Steve Rizzo’s Stable Sound Studios in Portsmouth to record.

At Fall River’s Narrows Center for the Arts, Kendall and his band presented the new songs last month at a record release show, which was a perfect live execution of the new material. The band consisted of Newporters Kevin Zahm on bass, Chuck Ciany on guitar, and Dave Narcizzo from Throwing Muses on drums, as well as Dan Wright from Jamestown on keyboards and Rafael Attias from North Kingstown on guitar.

Kendall is opening for The Barenaked Ladies at the Newport Yachting Center on Friday, July 18 then later that night he will be playing at Jimmy’s Salon. He will also be performing during BridgeFest on July 29 at Channing Church as part of the songwriters’ round table.

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