It’s hard to find country music that feels genuine, but Bob Sumner has put together a classy country album full of quality songs. If you’re a fan of the Rayland Baxter and Andrew Combs version of country music these days, you’ll love what Bob Sumner has to offer. Complete with quality guitar work, gently assuring lyricism, and a lush backing track, it’s a sound that puts what you hear on the radio to shame. Let’s dig into the tracks.
“Riverbed,” the opener, will put you right down in your seat. It’s sweet, enchanting even, with the use of gentle electric guitar. I can’t help but think about Glenn Campbell with this one. I mean that as a sincere compliment, too. The quality vocal rides over the surface and the melody is just unconventional enough to make you pay attention.
The second track “All Your Dead Things” has an old time folk narrative style, a bit like Kris Kristofferson. The crooning “Rosalee” line feels vintage in the best way possible. It’s an interesting heartache tune that invokes feelings of empathy more than pity. It works well.
“New York City” has a Greenwich Village folk vibe to it. There’s an atmospheric quality to the backing track, but the lead vocal tells biographical dream of going to the big city. I imagine a lot of small town folks hope to make it to the big city to be with that special someone. It’s a common theme, developed well for the song.
“Comin’ Around” has a nice southern rock meets folk music feel to it. Listeners might imagine this tune coming out in about 1975 with the tone on the guitars and the overall feeling. It’s one of my favorites on the album, with a nice clean presentation and folksy charm to the lyrics. It’s followed by “Worn Down Boy,” a track that feels more country than some of the others. It just feels like a tune you’d hear at an old honky tonk. It’s like got that slowed down two step sad song vibe down to perfection.
“Rosalee” harkens back to a lyric from an earlier track on the album. I think it’s a pedal steel that’s filling the air with beautiful lush sounds on this track. The plaintive vocal combined with expressive strings feels like the Nashville Sound has been brought into the modern age. There’s a hat tip to the past, but it’s definitely an evolution. “Ticket to Ride” brings us home with an acoustic ballad that perfectly connects folk and country music. Somehow, despite so many quality tracks on the album, I think this one sneaks in as my favorite. It’s sad, focusing on death as an end to pain, but it just feels comfortably melancholic.
This entire album is for fans of genuine country music. The evolution of this sound is fascinating. It goes against all the cliches of country music, showing a well thought and sincere lyricism. If you’re a fan of the heart of country music and can’t stand what’s on the radio, give this album a spin and let ole Bob Sumner right onto your front porch. You’ll be glad to hear this fella play.