Bob Bradshaw – Queen of the West

Album Review | Fluke Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Queen of the West is almost cinematic in its execution, a landscape of dusty roads, border towns, ‘floating’ mountains and deep ravines, inhabited by outlaws, where Cork, Albuquerque and the ancient walls of Japan become one. A concept album of sorts, Queen of the West showcases Bob Bradshaw’s imagination in thirteen songs, related in style and character but equally they stand alone as individual stories, snippets in the lives of those inhabiting the general narrative. Foremost in the story is Ruby, the Queen of the West, whose presence is felt both in terms of a real life femme fatale and also as a theatrical character, echoed in the melodramatic feel of “Ruby Black.”

Bob Bradshaw’s attention to detail never wanes throughout the song cycle, whilst adopting all the twang necessary to evoke the feel of the West, but also utilising the fine collective of singers and musicians at hand to develop a more universal musical appeal. The exquisite “Child” reminds us of the campfire songs of old, in the manner of Utah Phillips’ The Goodnight Loving Trail, whilst “The Wearing of the Black” references the old country, effectively bridging the two cultures at the heart of this engaging story. There’s humour, sadness and hope along the trail, together with all the mystique of the Old West. Listening to these stories, you somehow feel a part of them.

Choice Track: “Ruby Black” (NSV 486)