With his new album ‘Baby I’m a Runaway’, Rob Lynch blends guitar pop, folk rock and, at times, grunge into a well-worn melting pot of genres, with mixed, and predictable results.
The influences of musicians such as Frank Turner abound. This is inevitable, the trope of one man and his guitar is one that pervades British music culture. From Turner to Billy Bragg, the lonely bard is a genre Lynch embraces on a number of tracks. Like Turner, Lynch couples rousing acoustic guitar with heavy drums and jangling electric guitars, most notably on ‘Selfish Bones’. Much like Turner’s ‘I Still Believe’, the track opens to Lynch and a guitar, before building momentum to an energized chorus. It’s a great song in its own right, but its position in the track list saps it of some of its force.
This is a problem which seems to permeate the album throughout. Whilst the individual tracks feature strong lyrics sung with passion and palpable earnestness by Lynch, the album as a whole seems formulaic and duteously treads the path laid out by Lynch’s predecessors. Opening with ‘Prove it’, a sing along classic with a chorus that hooks you in, seems like a great idea, until you get to track number four which follows the same clichéd specifications as the three songs that came before it.
That’s not to say that Lynch doesn’t flourish on some tracks. On ‘Runaway’, he layers acoustic guitar over exuberant rock instrumentals, with an urgent electric guitar perpetually strumming alongside Lynch’s voice, infused with sincerity. The track has a sense of immediacy and determination. One of the strongest tracks on the album, it’s an example of Lynch successfully marrying genres to create a song which is dynamic in its delivery.
‘Salt Spring’ opens to a wall of feedback and electric guitar, reminiscent of early Weezer. Lynch’s vocals echo through the verses before finding traction as he murmurs across the chorus. It’s one the heaviest tracks on the album, and the incorporation of alt-rock and grunge element, and the slightly reduced tempo help the track to stand out in an otherwise underwhelming second half.
Lynch shines on the slower and simpler songs. On ‘Closer’, his voice is the stand out star, and it sits atop spangling guitar riffs. The track brings the tempo of the album down, breaking the careening energy of earlier songs. In ‘Tectonic Plates’, again, Lynch’s voice takes centre stage. Stripped down to just him and a guitar, the track draws the two halves of the album together.
Lynch certainly has the voice and the lyrical skill to make ‘Baby, I’m a Runaway’ a great album, and his boisterous delivery makes for some fun tracks, but, despite a valiant attempt, he doesn’t quite get there. Whilst ‘Closer’ and ‘Salt Spring’ stand out as strong candidates for best track of the album, much of the rest blurs into obscurity in amongst an ambiguous collection of cognate songs. It’s still worth a listen, Lynch’s passion is palpable, and perhaps that is enough.
‘Baby, I’m a Runaway’ is out on the 22nd July via Grand Hotel Von Cleef
This Rob Lynch article was written by Eleanor Kendrick-Jones, a GIGsoup contributor.