Natural Bob Holdsworth - CD Reviews
from Sing Out! Sing Out! - Vol. 46 #2 - Summer 2002 p136 (Rich Warren, WFMT)
Natural Bob Holdsworth performs frequently Around the Chicago-area. He once approached me and asked how he could be played on my radio show. I told him to record a good CD. He took my advice, and I've played Just Be You quite a bit. I'm not sure how Holdsworth gained the appellation "natural " since there's no indication he's been certified by the FDA, but this CD embodies a delightful naturalness in performance and writing. Holdsworth sings with zest and sincerity. His wife and children accompany him, while he plays seven different instruments. Some of the tracks incorporate a contemporary take on an old string band sound. The songs range from the buoyant "Rucksack Full Of Love," to the sad story of an elderly woman dedicated to feeding birds even though it means her own death in "Birdfeeder," His song about parenting and TV "Ain't Yer Mama" boogies and revolves around a clever play on words. His anthem to "naturalness" "Just Be You" is a keeper in telling us to just be ourselves. Holdsworth includes the traditional "The Cuckoo," and Stephen Foster's-"Old Folks At Home." While the CD has its rough edges, it's a wholesome natural treat. - RWarr
from Common Times Vol 15 No. 3 Summerl 2002 issue (Chicago, IL) copyright 2002 Maria Cooper
Local singer/songwriter Natural Bob Holdsworth has finally released his first CD. This is reason to celebrate, as his appearances on the local folk scene are too few and far between. His monthly 15 minutes at None of the Above Coffeehouse merely whet the appetite for more of his music. This highly-anticipated CD contains 11 songs written by Natural Bob, as well as two traditional tunes. Bob's songs range from silly to serious, but they all reflect his outlook: a mature attitude tempered by hefty doses of humor and self-awareness. Bob's voice can occasionally be a little gruff, yet he can slide into a soft, sweet and expressive tone.
This collection begins with a song that maintains an easy-going pace but assertive philosophy that declares "I don't need no emotional baggage, just A Rucksack Full of Love." That tune is followed by Bob's arrangement of a tradional melody, "The Cuckoo's Nest." The Cuckoo starts in a hard-driving tempo, then segues into a sinister warning to young sweethearts that "your love will leave you and never tell you why." The Birdfeeder, who "died for love,...died for duty" will bring a tear to your eye.
Ain't Yer Mama lightens the mood considerably, reflecting the enlighteded viewpoint that a woman is "your partner not your slave, you'd better learn how to behave...do it by yourself." More Like Me (with tongue in cheek) and Nobody Rubs Me the Right Way both express the desire that people could be more like what we want them to be. Sitting in My Basement is a rollicking melody that deserves widespread airplay, because its dual message of procrastination and amassment will resonate with most Baby Boomers. I Love My Wife is an affectionate exploration of a married man's dilemma: "why do my eyes follow women down the street...why do I wanna jump their bones?"
The strongest song on this CD is Borrowing From the Future, wherein the rueful chorus reminds us that "you're working half your life for things you cannot see...borrowing from the future and living off the past." Just Be You is loving and affirmative, just the thing to play for a friend who needs some guidance. Stephen Foster's Old Folks at Home completes this collection, but Bob's version of the song is darker than the usual rendition of this classic tune.
Bob gets some solid vocal and musical backup on this CD from his wife Micky, son Jeff and daughter Lila. Their instrumental work and harmonies enhance each song, adding depth and intensity. Just Be You belongs in every Chicago folkie's collection. And, please - someone, anyone, tell Natural Bob not to make us wait so long for his next CD!