ROB LINCOLN – 5 Cents A Song (own label)

5 centsIt used to be true that every pop star or group needed a gimmick. If they didn’t have one the press would take something and make it into one – The Beatles’ haircuts, Orbison’s shades, whatever. Rob Lincoln will be the first to tell you that what he’s done isn’t a gimmick but it certainly attracted our attention.

Consider the title of the album, 5 Cents A Song. It’s meant literally – the album retails at $15.00 in the States so at 5 cents a song that’s 300 songs. That’s a hell of a debut solo album. The main course of this double-disc banquet is in DVD format containing the first 300 songs that Rob wrote beginning when he was fifteen. In addition, there are files of lyrics and chords and, I kid you not, 42 bonus tracks! This disc runs to over eighteen hours and even the most dedicated reviewer isn’t going to get through all that before sitting down to write so Rob has thoughtfully provided a standard CD sampler of twenty-three songs. I started there.

Rob is pretty much a one-man band when it comes to making records although there are four musicians, notably his duo partner Steve Lessick, helping him out with some doubling up as recording engineers. Rob’s styles range from folky picking to garage rock but for the most part he’s playing acoustic folk-pop, the opening track on the CD, ‘So Far Away From Home’, being a prime example. Had it been around in the right place at the right time it might have been a hit for somebody but sadly it was written forty years too late. Although these recordings are essentially demos there is only the occasional too-fast fade to give that away.

You might think that Rob is something of a musical chameleon and I think that’s true. He’s open about his influences but get past that and you’ll have to agree that he’s an above-average songwriter and if you can’t get a selection of tracks for your MP3 player I’m afraid you lack imagination. There are some intriguing titles I haven’t reached yet: ‘Albert Einstein On Route 95 South’ and ‘My Deranged Clementine’ to name but two. Just think: I could take my favourite twenty-three tracks for an album and you could take yours and there would still be 254 left for everybody else.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

This version of Rob’s song ‘Mango’ is performed by Rob’s regular live line-up, Lesssick & Lincoln & Cohen.