Bob Evans is the alter ego of Kevin Mitchell, front man for Jebediah, a WA band I’ve been fond of since their Slightly Odway album of 1997. Nice thrashy guitars, a strong backbeat, poppy and loud.
Bob released an acoustic solo album in 2003 called Suburban Kid, recalling for me other favoured singer songwriters like Evan Dando and Grant Lee Phillips.
He has now moved up to another level with Suburban Songbook, recorded in Nashville with producer Brad Jones. The songlist is really strong, pushing Bob into a higher level of accomplishment. The Dando / Grant Lee notes are still strong, but the arrangements have moved into a more polished sphere.
Not surprisingly, there are some country touches with a slide guitar here, an ex-Wilco drummer there. They by no means diminish the album, adding rather to the rich tapestry of musical influences that highlight Evans’ intensely personal songs.
Among these, I could hear the music hall theatrics of Ray Davies, the musical magpie that is Beck (not so much his hop hop beats, but most everything else), the naked emotionalism of the Neil and Tim Finn (separately and together), Beatle-ish orchestrations and instrument choices and some fairly lush arrangements that might have something to do with Jones’ previous work with people like Sheryl Crow.
Based on Suburban Songbook, I’d put Bob Evans in the vanguard of Australian singer songwriters alongside Josh Pyke, Ben Lee, Tim Freedman, Tim Rogers and Glenn Richards.
For anyone who likes new music that is nostalgic and romantic.