By Bo Nicholson - Managing Director
Genre: Folk Pop
Label: Universal Music Australia
Listen on Spotify
Kevin Mitchell sits right in the sweet-spot of being one of Australia’s most beloved musicians while many people haven’t even heard of him. Forming ‘Jebediah’ in his teenage years, Mitchell delivered seminal Australian 90s hits with an Indie tinge; Leaving Home is the best-known of their tracks. But Mitchell was more than an angsty kid; he was a songwriter with a softer side. An alter-ego if you will. Hence, the birth of Bob Evans. He used Bob’s profile to stay under the radar when doing local gigs around Perth and to try and remove the expectations that naturally follow any project that Kevin ‘the lead singer of Jebediah’ Mitchell would otherwise have had.
2018 marks 15 years since his first album as Bob; Suburban Kid. As a kind of celebration, he has released Full Circle; a hand-picked collection of his best songs according to him. Not all of these songs are hits, per se, as Bob hasn’t had a lot of commercial success to this point of his career.
Undoubtedly his biggest hit is where we start, with Don’t You Think It’s Time, the lead single from his 2006 magnum opus, Suburban Songbook. Its sugar-sweet optimism atop a harmonica and strummed acoustic guitar tell us that we are in safe hands as we encounter challenges anew. It also tells us that this won’t be a chronological account of Bob’s discography as he tries to construct an album that makes sense from songs that tell a bunch of different stories from different parts of his career.
Immediately there’s a juxtaposition, as the hope and optimism of the opener is replaced with dark nostalgia, as Mitchell expresses his loneliness coming out of his previous album on 2009’s Someone So Much. “I drove down your road searching for I don’t know, I was hoping I might find something I’d left long behind.”
Throughout his career, his Bob Evans persona appears to have become even more authentic than his song-writing under his real name with Jebediah. As Evans, he can lift the lid on his deepest emotions and let them out with a degree of anonymity. He writes songs about where he comes from and about turning over new leaves. He writes songs about loneliness (Someone So Much), the transience of love (the incredible Wintersong), suicidal thoughts (the deceptive Pasha Bulker), political vitriol (Matterfact), as well as love songs to his wife (Sadness & Whiskey) and his first child (Wonderful You). That’s not even mentioning this writer’s personal favourite, Nowhere Without You, a 4 minute slice of pop bliss that Mitchell wrote on a piano that is so sweet and cheerful that you simply can’t help but fall in love with it.
As Evans, Mitchell is forever trying to paint a picture with his words. They aren’t brilliant flourishes, they are real and authentic and focus on the minutiae of a life that is familiar to him and perhaps thousands of fans. Full Circle offers a good summation of the ground that he has covered; of a man who was initially unsure of how to fully express himself to someone becoming increasingly comfortable creating his vision and not hiding behind any walls.
As far as ‘Best Ofs’ go, it’s not the greatest you’ll ever hear. But it’s true to the journey of the artist. To hear Bob Evans at his absolute peak, you need look no further than the masterful Suburban Songbook. For the uninitiated, Full Circle is a good place to start.
Bob Evans is about to tour Australia. He does a great show, so please find a show near you here. Dude is a national treasure.
Bo Nicholson is a Managing Director at The Pioneer Australia, whose favourite Australian album is Suburban Songbook by Bob Evans. He also creates content for Pure Cinema and you can find them on YouTube.