Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Just to let you know, LongShot in the title is not a typo. That is the way Bob Frey has it on his album so I wanted to keep the authenticity alive.
If you mix insightful and intelligent songwriting with unique and soothing vocals, you will get a good snapshot of Bob Frey. I mentioned that I seem to review and gravitate to an inordinate number of performers from Ohio. Although Bob Frey has spent the last 24 years in Minneapolis, he is a native of Cleveland. Another one to add to the ever growing list. This is a little bit on the folk side of things but has an attitude and great musicianship that differentiates LongShot Deal from your standard folk performers. At times it sounds like Dylan, Dire Straights, and maybe Cat Stephens. Although the influences are there, Bob Frey fuses these influences into his own style.
Smart songwriting is what Bob Frey is all about. These are not songs as much as they are poems set to music. They are incredibly tangible and all of them tell a great story or require some thought or introspection.
American Kid, the final song on this collection immediately caught my attention because it is a nostalgic song about various events in Bob Frey’s life. It is written and sung with so much conviction, it immediately captivated my attention. Again, more like a poem or short story than a song. It is as if a small folk song grew up to become an adult. The last lines of every verse are especially moving and thought provoking:
So, Condemn me, or Forsake me, Criticize me, or Embrace me
I was just an American Kid
These are the lines that Frey sings to explain himself at the conclusion of each adventure which happens to also be the end of each verse. It is an absolutely perfect way to sum up all the experiences and lessons learned in this song. This isn’t just a collection of folk songs, rather a collection of anecdotes or short stories. Set to music, this release is a keeper and one I will play over and over.