David Kilgour’s first album in five years confirms his enduring strengths as a singer, guitarist and composer, but it also stands apart from anything else he’s done. Half of Bobbie’s A Girl, which was recorded in Kilgour’s hometown of Dunedin, New Zealand, is instrumental, and it sustains a low-key vibe from start to end. Drums played with brushes and gauzy vibraphone set the stage for Kilgour’s gentle singing, which tends to cycle through a few repeated phrases that sound off-hand until you realize that he’s singing about some of the heaviest stuff around.
The album came together after Kilgour lost an old friend and a parent, and there are moments where you become aware you’re eavesdropping on a conversation with someone in the afterlife. But Bobbie’s A Girl isn’t about wallowing in grief; it’s about letting go and carrying on. The guitars, played by Kilgour and long-time Heavy Eight Thom Bell, do a lot of the talking; sparse, tremolo leads impart the feeling of being between times and states, but patiently choogling rhythms alert you to the fact that the world’s not going to stop. And if you’re playing or listening, you don’t need stop either, not just yet. The album’s cover depicts a stray cat that turned up on Kilgour’s front porch and became a part of the family. Like its namesake, Bobbie’s A Girl is a comforting presence.