Prince Frog Records – 2017
15 tracks; 60 minutes
Bobby Messano’s last two albums Welcome To Deltaville in 2013 and Love And Money in 2015 garnered much praise and nominations for Blues Blast awards. Bad Movie is something of a concept album and Bobby is clearly emerging from a troublesome relationship, many of the songs discussing the break-up. Bobby worked with Jon Tiven on most of the songs, also with Larry Weiss and Steve Kallnich on three, plus there is a song that Brian May of Queen wrote with Jon. The album was recorded in Nashville with bassist Ed Canova, drummer Nioshi Jackson and keyboardist Pete Gallinari providing support for Bobby’s vocals and guitars; Jon Tiven adds sax to two tracks and Alecia Elliott Fisher vocals to two more.
The title track opens proceedings with an aggressive rock sound and Bobby feeling himself trapped in a “Bad Movie”. The Brian May song “Come To Your Senses” is something of a Bobby Bland style soul ballad seeking hope for the relationship, Bobby handling the vocals well and contributing some good guitar work. The next song, however, shows that matters have not been resolved as Bobby asks “Why Water A Dead Rose”, a rock ballad that grows from acoustic beginnings to an intense finale. Where next, one wonders? Bobby sees that future as a “Road To Oblivion”, Bobby on dobro over a country blues rhythm: “I’m going down the road to oblivion, it’s gonna be a long, dark night”. “Unconventional Wisdom” has a full-on rock riff, the chorus beefed up by sax and in “Too Good To Be True” Bobby recognises that he has had to accept the truth though “I really liked the way you lied to me”, sad lyrics over a jaunty tune. The entirely logical follow-up is “If The Phone Aint Ringin’, It’s Not Me Callin’”, a short but frantic piece of garage rock n’ roll. To further support the notion that Bobby is emerging from this disaster of a relationship he declares that it’s “Never Too Late To Break A Bad Habit”, another catchy rocker.
“Water Under The Bridge” is a slower tune with fine organ and acoustic guitar, a song that looks back at the failed relationship; Alecia Elliott Fisher is co-vocalist here, her clear voice making a nice pairing with Bobby though towards the end of the song she strays into ‘warbling’. Alecia also contributes backing vocals on “You Left Me No Choice” which has a distorted wah-wah guitar solo that fits badly with the lilting reggae tune. The reality of being alone kicks in on “The Girl That Got Away”, a gentle tune with delicate guitar fills as Bobby contemplates the future alone: “Now the closet’s half empty so I got myself more room but damn, it’s full of my favourite perfume. No way to chase it out, that lingering bouquet of the girl that got away”.
The final three tracks move away from the main theme of the album: “We Need A Blessing” mixes wah-wah and a ZZ Top beat on a song that seems to move into a more political area as Bobby states that “we are Americans and we love living here. We have lost our way, we need a blessing to appear, to open up a path that’s clear”; “Is It Too Much To Hope For A Miracle” moves into Springsteen ballad territory with keyboardist Pete conjuring up an accordion sound; Bobby does at least sound more optimism on the closing track “American Spring” with Jon’s sax giving a full sound and lyrics that look forward positively, quite a relief after some of the angst exhibited earlier on! Plus it is very much the best rocker on the album with an earworm guitar riff.
More rock and Americana than blues, Bad Movie has perhaps given Bobby the chance to exorcise his personal demons and the last three tracks point the way to a future project that may be less personal.