Bob Kendall's first solo record is the product of over a decade's experience of making music with others, combined with an eye for the details of life gathered from a career spent helping others. After a short stint playing bass in an early incarnation of the Blood Oranges, Kendall spent time playing with his brother Greg as The Brothers Kendall. After a few years of social service work, he started writing his own music and gigging locally in Rhode Island, where last year he played at the Newport Folk Festival.
Though ostensibly a solo record (all 12 songs are self-written), Bob Kendall is ably backed here by a full band, with brother Greg helping out on guitars. The sound balances between upbeat pop ("Long Honeymoon" is a wry, bouncy charmer about a stale relationship), roots-rock ("Too Gone To Drive") and guitar-driven contemplation (the intriguing opener "Grand Finale"). Kendall isn't a powerful singer, but his vocals, most directly reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy, are consistently affecting. The record is self-produced, effectively varying textures to match the tales of "recrimination and self-deception," as Kendall puts it. The humor and insights displayed here inspire appreciation beyond a doubt. (51 Village Square, Bellows Falls, VT 05101)