Bob Bradshaw – The Art of Feeling Blue


Bob Bradshaw - The Art of Feeling Blue

Bob Bradshaw – The Art of Feeling Blue
Format: CD – Vinyl LP – Digital
Label: Fluke Records
Release: 2023

Release date: June 16, 2023

His tenth album, ‘The Art Of Feeling Blue,’ features twelve tracks recorded between October 2021 and October 2022, with a core band of Boston musicians – guitarists Andrew Stern and Andy Santospago, bass-player John Sheeran and drummer Mike Connors, as well as frequent collaborators Kris Delmhorst on vocals, James Rohr on keyboards and Chad Manning on fiddle, and other special guests.

On the blue-and-white album cover we see the portrait of a man, but his features are obscured by an open doorway. At the crossing of this threshold is someone with his back to us toting a guitar case. He’s on his way to work, as it were, entering the inner sanctum of the mind. Both of these men are Bradshaw. The illustration, drawings of Bradshaw by artist Bob Maloney, represents the start of Bradshaw’s journey. The songwriting process can take many byways and off-ramps, and over the course of the album Bradshaw will introduce you to a variety of characters, most with aspects of himself in there.

Bradshaw wrote the title track with Andy Santospago. It all spun out of the opening verse: “I’m something of an expert/In the art of feeling blue/I’ve got a gift for finding hurt/Any excuse will do/For feeling blue.”

“The grandiosity and humor of that opening line tickled me”, Bradshaw says, “and I wanted to see where it would lead.” It led him to peeling back layers of the blues. “Each verse is set up as ‘I’m an expert, I’m a craftsman, I’m a master.’ It describes me, in a way: full of myself, yet self-deprecating.”

There’s a comfort level in the music, certainly, but also a layer of turmoil or conflict, both inner- and outer-directed. Consider the album’s first track, ‘Waiting’, a co-write with longtime collaborator Scoop McGuire. Bradshaw likens it to Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’, calling it “a list song” where he’s trying to “find as many ways to say the same thing as possible. Still, ‘Waiting’ is mostly about hooks and riffs, nothing too heavy – nothing poetic or philosophical that might take the listener out of the song.”

Bob Bradshaw
photo Emelyn Chiang

Despite the title of the album, Bradshaw says, overall, “there’s not an arc or a theme as such”. It’s not all about feeling blue. “The pattern is, when I have half a dozen decent new songs, I’ll ask my bandmates if they have scraps for a few ballads or a few rockers, and we’ll take it from there. There’ll be a deliberate attempt to make those final songs fit in sonically and narratively with the others. When I knew the album was going to be called The Art Of Feeling Blue, I had a sense what the next four or five songs should be.”

Bradshaw, who’s now entering his 60s, had recorded the bulk of The Art Of Feeling Blue when vicissitude struck in January 2022: Bob’s wife, Connie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. “I lost my mind when she got sick”, he says. He completed a pre-booked week-long tour of Ireland with his band in May – by far the best week of that year – but mostly put music aside and became Connie’s caregiver. She died in August. Bradshaw began to pick up the pieces.

It’s not easy for him to talk about. “This is the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me”, Bradshaw says. “I somehow went back into the studio two months after Connie died and finished up the four or five songs I started with the band in 2021.”

The Art of Feeling Blue, of course, is dedicated to Connie.


01. Waiting (3:32)
02. Everybody’s Smalltime Now (3:23)
03. The Art of Feeling Blue (3:33)
04. I Know a Place (4:06)
05. Hot in the Kitchen (3:40)
06. I Keep it Hid (3:42)
07. Rosa (3:36)
08. The Silk Road Caravan (4:04)
09. Somebody Told Me a Lie (3:49)
10. Thought I Had a Problem (3:44)
11. Let Sleeping Gods Lie (4:01)
12. Stepping Stones (2:32)