Bobby Dove
Hopeless Romantic
Continental Record Services

Carefully Observed Lyricism and Song-Craft, Bedded In Classic Country That Nods to The Past and The Future Too.

Released in Canada in February 2021, Bobby Dove’s breakthrough release is finally getting an official European physical release – as I’ve been listening to this album for over a year, it’s had time to fully embed itself with me.
As a fan of the honky-tonkier side of the Country spectrum, I liked the sound of this album from the start – pedal steel – check – bar-room piano – check – heartbreak – check.
So; what lifts this above the generic then?
Well – several things.
The title track, Hopeless Romantic is a standout – if Rilo Kiley/Jenny Lewis were/was to make a Country album, this would be on it.
Unexpected melodic shifts, strings and a pure vocal timbre make this an instant classic.
“Sometimes It’s a Lonely Road” treads more conventional classic country, with a brushed hi-hat and plaintive piano, but the delayed gratification of the hook keep the listener on tenterhooks.
“Gas Station Blues” employs a cyclical gritty riff, but it’s Dove’s vocal ticks that make this one – sighs and shudders juxtapose a chicken-picked solo.

The Twangometer hits 11 on “Chance in hell” with what sounds like dropped bottom strings bouncing off against tinkling piano and backing vocals from Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy.
You’re not going to get much Countrier than this.
The pace drops on “My World’s Getting Smaller” which carries traces of early Lucinda Williams in feel and delivery.
Things stay on the darker side on “Haunted Hotel” and the beautiful tale of frustrated hope “Like it or not I love you”.

Although my understanding of Spanish is less than 1%; the tone of “El Hormiguero” (something about an anthill) is pervaded with angst and melancholy, which is pretty much all you need really.
“Early Morning Funeral” is a lyrical tour-de-force
with an economy of words/he blew away the birds
– which could be said of Bobby Dove herself, in this delicately observed tale of a former musician.

Dove moves into John Prine/Lyle Lovett finger-picking territory with “Golden Years” where a warmly recorded guitar beds itself against Dove’s sharp vocal reflective take on the unrealistic expectations of time, society and achievement.
To round things off, there’s the appropriately titled “New Endings, New Beginnings” with its laconic pedal steel infused lightly seasoned boogie.

As mentioned, I’ve been able to listen to this album for far longer than the normal review window, but that hasn’t dimmed its appeal – Dove’s carefully observed lyricism and song-crafting, bedded in a form of classic country that nods to the past and the future is just as strong as it was on initial release – and now you won’t have to pay a fortune in shipping to get hold of a physical copy!

Review by Nick Barber
Released North America 2021
Released Europe August 19th 2022


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