Life As Art
Life As Art Bob Runyon and Plumb Bobs Joy and the spirit of celebration. Despite the pressures of modern life and especially the growing sad tone of desperation and cynicism creeping relentlessly into his beloved rural culture (the theme of his last album, titled simply 'Plumb Bobs'), songwriter and singer Bob Runyon continues to defy the times with songs of humor and dignity and optimism. 'Life As Art' is his most powerful and fully realized expression of courage and hope and charming humor in the face of difficult, changing times. From the opening song, 'Purple Cow', with it's opening line of 'Things couldn't really be much better....it does you good to sing a smile upon your heart...' to collaborator David Lacky's tongue-in-cheek 'Name Brand Cowboy', this album celebrates country life. But there's nothing simple or stereotyped about country living as described by Bob and his friends. On the contrary, these songwriters are smart, educated and aware, even wise, and their lives in the country are thoroughly informed by an up-to-date awareness of all that goes on. As the title song expresses it, Bob and his friends live their lives with 'eyes wide ... eyes open wide'. The ensemble on this album also expresses a sophistocated, crossover sensibility. With rhythms driven by jazz drummer Jody Goodman, and St. Louis jazz guitarist Phil Croy threading amazing, uplifting lines throughout, with Mark Allred's perfectly timed and tasteful keyboard lines, Greg Spillman's classical and graceful cello lines, this ain't your everyday string band in any sense. Underlying it all are more traditional sounds: Kit Tate, Dave Lacky and Mark Chambers on mandolin and mandola, John Hamlin and Paul Grace on fiddles, Pat Hamlin on accordion, and Dave Lacky on string bass, not to mention Danny Hall, Dave, Greg and Bob on guitars, this is a band which understands the harmonies and subtleties of a traditional string band. Add to this mix Mike Barber's sitar on 'Wild Birds', and you get an idea of the eclectic approach of 'Life As Art'. And it all works. It all uplifts. It all refreshes. Immaculately recorded by Bob and David, mixed and produced by Bob and Mike Robertson (who also produced 'Plumb Bobs') and mastered by Jeff Mueller, this album shines. It bores straight to my heart like a sweet arrow. It is often deeply affecting. Give 'Life As Art' a listen. Loan your copy to your friends. Your lives will be that much smarter and more refined as a result. You will smile at the very least. And if you're lucky, you'll discover 'what it means to be Strangely Human.'