Tobin Bawinkel, frontman for Celtic punk innovators Flatfoot 56, dials the volume down and the storytelling up on the debut full length from his side project 6’10.
On 6’10, Bawinkel is joined by old friends and new bandmates Josh Robieson (mandolin, ukulele), Mike Pettus (ukulele bass), and Keith Perez. While the raw punk of Flatfoot 56 is absent on The Humble Beginnings of a Rovin’ Soul, it came as a surprise to me to discover how much punk and folk music interrelate. Bawinkel has returned to his musical roots on The Humble Beginnings of a Rovin’ Soul. Drawing from childhood days spent with family and friends playing folk and bluegrass, Bawinkel now transforms this music to reflect working-class ethics.
The amazingly catchy “Cannonball” begins the album with Bawinkel strumming his guitar and Robieson showing his brilliance on the mandolin.
Blue-collar ethics shine on “Da Boss”, as 6’10 sings a tale of the working class rising against the lies of politicians while drawing a comparison to the workers who “keep our city moving”.
Your blindfold’s in the mail
Light that cigarette before all of it falls down
Your pretty words will fail, we know
My faith in you is drained, it’s been poured out of this childlike heart
You’ll pay for all the lies you sold
Positive and negative emotions experienced in relationships pour from Bawinkel’s soul throughout The Humble Beginnings of a Rovin’ Soul. The loss of love found on “Tuesday” and “Where Did You Go?” along with the humourous story of a road-loving musician who suffers inevitable consequences on “Someday Hun”.
Got a happy song to sing, but I still miss you
Every state that we drive through, you’re always on my mind
Got the Jacks playing on my stereo
No place that we won’t go
Billy Bones always gets it right
Well I’m tired of waiting here, she said,
for all these months
Haven’t felt the road’s equal, no not once
so I’ve packed my bags and I’m off to mother’s
Oh, I took the dog,
You can have your brothers
As a Christian, Tobin Bawinkel shares the trials and blessings found in a life filled with faith. “Backpack” recounts how we slip and fail as humans, but have a love from Christ that never falters. 6’10 also recorded a barroom version of the classic hymn “It Is Well”.
The Humble Beginnings of a Rovin’ Soul culminates in the outstanding song “The Travelers”. Two characters recount their views of freedom, hedged in Walter Mitty-esque fantasies, before the factory whistle sounds and the men return to the reality of their humdrum lives.
Well, my old friend, we can daydream all we want
but when the whistle sounds its commanding haunt
we shall return from our wistful old tale
’cause we’re just two average Joes in this factory jail
just two average Joes in this factory hell
Furnishing reality, tinged with a topping of fantasy and adventure, 6’10 has drawn us back to an age that I thought had disappeared. Back to a simpler time and place, where storytelling was a part of our oral traditions. Where the storyteller traditionally delivered a profound message masked inside a tale. On The Humble Beginnings of a Rovin’ Soul, 6’10 has provided a keen insight to the medium of folk and crafted new chapters to the ongoing saga of our lives.