Sometimes it pays to just strip things right back to what’s important. In the case of Bobbo Byrnes, 12-strings and the truth, to miss-quote an old adage. And that is the charm of Mr B.’s music, the simplicity, the ability to just lay down a deft and musically astute platform, guitar, a straight four-four beat and some organ washes that “Phantom” Danny Federici would have been proud of and the job is done. The icing on the cake comes with the lyrics, honest narratives that would fit anywhere into the Mellencamp or early Steve Earle back catalogue.
And if that seems to underplay the quality of the songs, that isn’t the intention. Simple isn’t the same as simplistic, nuanced doesn’t equal naive. If the art of songwriting is knowing when not to play, of knowing what to leave out, then Mrs. What’s His Name is a masterclass in the less is more approach to song crafting. Stylistically, it doesn’t break much new ground, but then not all music has to. In fact most is happy with its musical lot. And why not? If it is enough to take a well-established template, give it a good polish and deliver something that sits easily in the upper echelons of the genre, then Bobbo Byrnes is going to be more than happy with his musical offspring.