BOB LESLIE – In Praise Of Crows (Big Red Records Big Red 5)

In Praise Of CrowsBob Leslie is a Scottish (half-Orcadian, actually) singer/songwriter with a humorous bent and a growing reputation. In Praise Of Crows is his third album.

Bob wraps up some serious points in his songs but the emphasis is on entertainment and, presumably, the hope that those serious points will lodge in the minds of his listeners. The opening track, ‘Don’t Start The Revolution In The Morning’, is an amusing song prompted by the fact that musicians who perform at the end of a demo don’t take part in the march. The obvious answer involves sound-checks but Bob makes something out of nothing. The title track is a parody of ‘Twa Corbies’ and ‘My Foolish Heart’ is a deliberately “daft” song designed to raise an audience out of its lethargy.

‘Fickle As The Moon’ is a serious counterpoint to the previous song, serving as a warning to those who love unwisely – that’s all of us, right? Now we’re settled in Bob gets serious and ‘Lest We Forget’ attacks the hypocrisy of certain politicians while ‘Next Best Bed’ is a side-step, being an adaptation of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, ‘Anne Hathaway’, sung by Bob’s daughter, Alice. It was inspired by the clause in Shakespeare’s will that left his widow his second best bed and Carol Ann explains it so eloquently.

It’s back to humour with the somewhat scatological ‘Sittin’ In The Belly Of The Whale’ which makes its point quite graphically and then Bob takes another side-step, firstly with ‘Hallowe’en’ and then with the Orcadian folk-tale ‘Peerie-Fool’. At this point you’ll be glad that the lyrics are available on Bob’s website. The song is written in, I suppose, the Orkney dialect and, combined with Bob’s heavy accent, it can be hard to follow. While we’re discussing dialects, the next song, ‘Up In The Mornin’, is an adaptation of a Burns poem.

‘One Size Don’t Fit All’ is another funny song that asks us to live and let live but Bob finishes on a serious note by making a plea for Scottish independence with ‘When Dreams Come Hame Tae Bide’ again with an appropriately heavy accent. Actually, there is a bonus track, a demo of a tale of an Orcadian speywife, ‘Bess Millie’ which sounds as polished as anything else on the record and makes for a fitting conclusion.

If In Praise Of Crows is any guide I think that a Bob Leslie gig would be a good night out. Sadly, I doubt it’s one I’ll be able to experience any time soon.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘My Foolish Heart’ – live:

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