From living room to eternity: esteemed American musician gives fans and followers his farewell performances.
Those who remember power-pop duo THE WINDBREAKERS, mostly known for their “Terminal” album, won’t scratch their heads upon hearing Bobby Sutliff’s name, although they may not be aware that the singing guitarist spent the last two decades of his life as a member of DONOVAN’S BRAIN, before “terminal” became attached to a disease which robbed the world of this remarkable auteur. A collective player, Sutliff never felt the pressure to issue a solo album, and worked on it quite unhurriedly since 2016 onwards, some songs harking back even further in time, until Bob realized the time was borrowed, and wrapped it up in May 2022 – to be gone forever three months later, having left the numbers on offer as the last testament to his talent.
Of course, their sound will be fairly familiar to Sutliff’s followers – the ’60s-indebted guitar jangle, distilled to essentials on one of the bonuses, the instrumental “Unfinished” – because Bob didn’t pursue sonic freshness: it’s the warmth of his performances that the late musician was after. And joie de vivre too – luring the listener in with the drum fill of organ-bolstered opener “Come On Home” to make everyone comfortable and prompt the audience to sing this infectious tune along with the writer. Playing everything himself – apart from the almost orchestral “Let It Go” which DB had recorded in a wordless fashion, thus creating a piece to support Sutliff’s soft voice here, and the scintillating waltz of “You Should Have Known Better”: the groove on the two cuts had been provided by Ric Parnell, who beat Bobby to the great gig in the sky – he weaves a brightly colored yarn of years spent enjoying the very existence, the merry country drive of “The Man Who Wrote Home Sweet Home” reflecting such delight. And though there’s keening in the raga-tinged “It All Fades Away” and “Never Say Forever” adds crunch to the artist’s subtle sorrow, his six-string solos are a sublime foil for double-tracked vocals, and his acoustic fingerwork on the cover of John Fahey’s “Poor Boy A Long Way From Home” is magnificent.
More so, there’s immortality packed into “Back Again” whose insistent twang propels Sufliff’s singing to the horizon before circling to where his Californian influences started to set the scene for the psychedelic jive of “12th Of February” that could serve as a perfect finale to this album if not for another bonus, the “Waste Of Time” demo, which unfolds its gorgeous motif further down the line. Bobby’s time wasn’t wasted, as his gift should keep on giving for many moons.