Rock n’ Roller Bob Schneider has been a fixture on the Austin, TX music scene for ages, releasing songs filled with hooks, humor and pathos. From gentler folks ballads to loud, churning bangers, Schneider has a diverse catalogue under his belt. On his latest album, In A Roomful of Blood with a Sleeping Tiger, the songs are generally mellower, but this sedated approach ends up allowing his adept lyricism and exquisite production a chance to shine.
Schneider’s voice can be “soft as honey”, and paired with his relaxed acoustic playing on tracks like “Boys You Like”, his songs end up blending in perfectly with the life happening around you. This opening track, a gentle and thoughtful track listing off the traits a lover looks for in her men (“Boys who look like Rambo, snatch you up and never let go”) should be snatched up for a romcom soundtrack immediately. The calming “Joey’s Song” is equally quiet and beautiful, conjuring a particular vibe with lyrics like “am I falling through the sky like a little lullaby, far away and far too high?”.
Though his songs are never outright parodies, Schneider’s sometimes quirky lyrics give an extra layer to his songwriting, often masking the emotional underpinnings of a track. On the lively “Lord of the Flies”, Schneider sings from the the POV of a character claiming to have joined the Space Force, mythologizing himself and his life as a way to deal with the tragedies and sadness he’s dealing with. There’s a sense of a person looking for a connection, and hoping he can find someone who can see past his lies and accept the person he really is. It’s this kind of depth that makes Schneider’s songs so special; they open up the more you listen to them, revealing heartbreak behind the humor.
Of course, sometimes the songs are just straight-forward funny. The harmonica-laden “I’m a Man” pokes fun at masculinity (“I’ve got a head full of fantastic plans. I’m a man”), while “Thor” spins a yarn about the Norse god Thor living as a normal, Packers-loving family man (though at its heart, even this track has an extra layer about people being able to change their ways).
While the majority of the album is mellower, Schneider does pick things up on full band rockers like the title track, which is peppered with dreamlike imagery delivered with a casual ease that is impossible to resist. Then there’s the bouncy, ELO-like “The World Turns Blue”, which uses a sing-songy melody and lyrics that make this one fun for the whole family. And for those who appreciate a good jam, the funkier “The Sun’s Coming” gives Schneider and his band a chance to cut loose. The playing here is far more rhythmic, with heavier percussion and organs giving it a classic rock feel.
Closing out the collection is the moving “The Band Plays On”, which perfectly balances melancholy with hopefulness as Schneider deals with moving on after the loss of someone meaningful to him. It’s a solemn closer but an emotionally satisfying conclusion.
Bob Schneider is probably one of rock’s best kept secrets. His songwriting is on par with American greats like Bob Seger and Tom Petty, and this latest album continues to bolster his sterling legacy. Be sure to listen when it comes out on August 27th, and listen to the pre-release tracks here!