After a 20-plus year hiatus from performing live, Bobby Lounge made quite a splash at the 2005 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Audiences were drawn to the Louisiana singer's deft piano skills, his hilarious lyrics, and his unique sense of theatricality (he was wheeled onstage in an iron lung by his contortionist nurse/muse, Gina Pontevecchio). This live coming-out party was accompanied by the release of his brilliant album, I Remember The Night Your Trailer Burned Down. The 2006 Jazzfest saw Lounge picking up where he left off last year, drawing an unofficial record crowd to his gig on the Lagniappe Stage. In addition, he’s now released an excellent follow-up, Ten Foot Woman.
Like its predecessor, Ten Foot Woman was recorded live in a private residence with nearly every track nailed in one take. While this live "warts and all" technique does yield the occasional flat note, it feels incredibly intimate, as if Bobby Lounge is performing in your living room if your living room is a steamy old-time Storyville bordello. His barrelhouse piano rumbles and saunters with flair and is occasionally accompanied by the lazy blues of Brian Stoltz’ acoustic guitar. Lounge’s vocals are full-throated and passionate, landing somewhere on the scale between Fiery Southern Preacher and Deranged Mental Patient.
The singer’s twisted brand of humor is most evident on the riotous “Don’t Pity Me.” This ode to sexual perversion pushes the envelope and “make(s) Marquis de Sade look like Mickey Mouse” as Lounge pleads:
_You don’t like late night phone calls from truckstop shower stalls.
I like ceramic tile.
Why should you be appalled?
Soap on a rope now, baby.
Don’t pity me.
You were so condescending when I was found suspended
Over some hot linguini held up by sex offenders.
Melt down some cheese now, baby.
Don’t pity me._
Such perversion is a bit of a running theme in Lounge’s lyrics, cropping up a few times in “Take Me to Angola,” a fun number that finds the singer yearning to be locked up in jail since “Some people cannot accept the fact that [he happens] to enjoy entertaining a pack of cub scouts late at night after the merit badge ceremony with a keg of beer.”
Bobby Lounge also gets serious with a couple of old gospel blues covers. “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior” is an 1870 hymn that he has dedicated to the survivors and victims of Hurricane Katrina. Lyrically, it’s a fitting anthem, especially when sung with such desperation. “Moan You Moaners,” made famous by Bessie Smith, implores sinners to repent their wicked ways. Of course, despite the seemingly serious diversion of these two tracks, there is some inherent irony when a man can sing about the joys of showing naked pictures to neighborhood children and then suddenly switch gears to sing about the virtues of the Lord.
With its similarities in sound and style, Ten Foot Woman could have easily been culled from the same session as I Remember The Night Your Trailer Burned Down. Both are intimate and thoroughly entertaining albums filled with boogieing piano and hysterically warped lyrics. Bobby Lounge’s musical style is firmly rooted in the past, so it’s not likely to evolve in the future. However, his lyrics seem to be on a riotous collision course with insanity, and it will be fun to watch just how bizarre his sense of humor will become.