Not too long ago we had a chat with Rob Lynch about his debut album, All These Nights In Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul, and with the incredible critical acclaim it’s received thus far, we thought we’d see what all the fuss was about. We were very right to. Rob’s striking voice isn’t the only thing that sets him apart in the singer/songwriter punk-rock genre, and this release is of a calibre akin to This Wild Life’s Clouded and Front Porch Step’s Aware – both rather convenient as he’s just finished a tour with the former, and is heading out across the UK with the latter in January.
From the forty-nine second opener to the record, 31/32, there’s a sense of bountiful optimism against all odds. It’s this sound that makes Rob’s work so truly distinguishable; no matter how dreary the lyrics may become (see Some Nights), he still balloons every song up with hope and joy like no other artist can. His notably clear vocals make for the ultimate sing-along too, and only adds to the frank honesty that fills his tracks. Broken Bones launches in with sharp edges, quick rhymes surprisingly romantic moments regardless of the abrupt half-shout that constitutes half the track.
Very occasionally I stumble across a record where every listen churns up a new favourite, and third track My Friends & I is a frequent victim of this. With a Frank Turner-esque sense of a true-to-life tour description and coated with a grateful energy, this is a song that forms a sense of community with gangs vocals imploring you to join in, even if it’s only a recorded version. Single Whiskey takes a turn for the softer, and despite the recurring moments where the structure could fall into a predictable routine it remains fresh. It’s a wonderful example that Rob can be powerful without the need to strain his voice or bring in gang vocals.
Many of these tracks feel as though they were designed for a live show, and True Romance (another favourite) would undoubtedly be the token “grab your friends, wave your lighters and sway with a drunken sentimentality” track. I mean this with no insult, as the sincerity is at most moving, and at least enthralling. To suit a set, Stamford would be a nostalgic finale, and once again there’s the simplistic and captivating lyricism, highlighted in the slower tracks, and only thinly covered by instrumental.
The album’s title takes itself from Some Nights, a frank but beautiful narrative that enhances further Rob’s lyrical capability – it’s one of those songs you find yourself wishing you’d written. His warm voice pours over the cold story, and if it weren’t for the gritty edge in the more powerful moments, this would be and all-round tear jerker. Unsurprisingly, Hand Grenade comes with a rougher and sharper sense to the track, with the analogy of war fitting into the track seamlessly and eloquently.
Feeling Good brings back the nostalgic and slower edge to the record, and the delicate backdrop on the song highlights the talent in the production. The juxtaposition of tone and content returns in Medicine, with a harmonica to accompany the whole debacle. With someone who wears his heart on his sleeve as frankly as Rob does, it’s hard not be absorbed by his music. The record closes with a pair of short (and not necessarily sweet) tracks, Blame and Widow. The honesty and self-examination of the former contrasts the love that runs through the lyrics of the finale perfectly.
It’s an album that deserves attention, and as the strongest solo debut I’ve heard all year, it’s one that also demands being stuck on repeat. The variety and polar opposites of tone in the tracks makes it a good all-rounder, with such a unique voice, it easily becomes an earworm. I find myself unable to speak highly enough of the sheer talent of Rob’s lyricism; watch this space.