In praise of UK musical talent Bobby Long

I know this is not in any way related to UK employment law, but please indulge me whilst I spread the gospel of UK musical talent – Bobby Long.

 If you have not heard Bobby Long’s music, (perhaps side tracked by the recent news of the White Stripes splitting up) then you are in for a genuine treat. Listening to Bobby’s music you can hear the timbre of so many great artists: Jeff Buckley; Tom Waits; David Gray; Leonard Cohen; Johnny Cash (!); Bob Dylan; Damien Rice; Nick Drake; Ray Lamontagne, and Bobby’s favourite – Neil Young.

Bobby’s star has risen for many years, last week appearing on the Jay Leno show. He has recently released his debut album “A Winter Tale” on ATO records, to critical acclaim in America – produced by Liam Watson, the Grammy award-winning recording engineer for the White Stripe’s album, Elephant. I urge you to download it from iTunes, or have a little preview on Spotify. The Los Angeles Times describes it as “a sound that’s redolent of many classic folk recordings as well as contemporaries like Damien Rice and Mumford & Sons.”

The first time I met Bobby was at a party in the Swedish countryside (his managers lakeside retreat) and whilst we were all sitting around the late night roaring fire a guitar appeared, and Bobby started playing (“who have you been loving?” If I remember correctly) and the 15 or so of us just sat in hushed silence, attentively listening – struck by his lyrical maturity, and diverse vocal range. At one point I asked him who wrote the song he had just played (thinking it was a single from a classic album that I had not heard), and he modestly said “oh that was one of mine”. I was impressed by his self depreciating humour, his acute modesty; and later in the week by his advanced wood chopping skills!

Bobby is often referred to in the press as one of the co-writers of that song (“Let me sign”) featured in the Twilight movie, performed by Bobby’s friend Robert Pattison. Despite his celebrity accolades, and support, Bobby’s feet stay firmly on the ground.

I particularly admired Bobby when he was performing on the London scene 2 years ago (including a residency at the Albany). When we discussed his bright future, he told me of his commitment to his academic studies – his thesis was on the impact of American Folk Music – and his admiration and love for his family. These are assets so often overlooked, but as we all know are enormously important.

The British press has an unfortunate habit of promoting artists, and then spitting them out if they become successful (Coldplay par example). In Bobby’s case I hope that he is spared this anguish, and appreciated for his diverse musical talents. Just as Drake burst onto the Global hip hop scene in 2009, Bobby will continue to gain acclaim in the folk music scene in 2011, and beyond. I predict international collaborations, Glastonbury headline slots, movies, and a career of happiness and success, without the tragedy of Jeff Buckley or Elliot Smith.

Bobby has already performed for Burberry Live, and here is a link to his myspace page:

Bobby – I will see you at the 100 club in London on 1 June 2011, if not before in NYC. We are all very proud of you back in London.


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