For his fourth album of original songs since graduating from the Berklee School of Music, Bob Bradshaw, an Irishman from Cork has enlisted long-time collaborators Scoop McGuire, Andrew Stern, Andy Santospago and Chad Manning, as well as top artists from his adopted Boston, including Duke Levine, James Rohr, Kris Delmhorst, Dave Westner, Annie Lynch, Britt Connors, Ed Lucie and Mike Connors. In other words, it is solo album with a lot of helpers.
The thirteen songs explore issues of identity, loss and redemption built around the character Ruby Black - the ‘Queen of The West’ in person - who is described as "a gun-toting femme fatale and an anguished mother pleading with the saints for the life of her son."
The other linked songs are told through the characters like in a cast of a Hollywood western. There is allusions to romanticized notions of the outlaw in dusty towns populated by sinners, saints and strangers
The title track opens proceedings with widescreen production values adding strings to staple Americana instrumentation like pedal steel, fiddle, organ and twangy guitar.
Take Me to the East has an oriental gloss but mostly the mood of tracks like Albuquerque ("that sleepy, tranquil border town") emphasise the fact that pure country music is the main inspiration.
At times Bradshaw's voice sounds like Elvis Costello and his focus on strong melodies with fairly one-paced song structures. The result is a pleasant, laid-back set of tunes albeit one lacking in true grit.
Bob Bradshaw’s website