Swinging with a percussive radiance more akin to a mainstream pop track than something from a fledgling indie sensation, the title cut in Bobby Dove’s Hopeless Romantic is every bit the multidimensional sampler a lead single/music video should be. A song as casual in style as this one is allows for Dove to really flex some melodic muscle, and without being too much of a showboat about their skills, Dove does a fine job of doing just that inside of this roughly two and a half minute-long single. There are many ways to take on the dreaded second album, but to me, starting off with a composition like this is essential.

There’s a cerebral quality to the video for “Hopeless Romantic” that I’d really like to see more of in the songwriting technique Dove applies to material in the style of “Golden Years” and “Like It or Not I Love You.” One of the more heavily-buzzed trends to emerge in the American underground over the past few years has come to us influenced by surrealism and postmodernity, and if this Canadian were able to incorporate such an aesthetic into their sound in the future, it could prove very lucrative to their career.

“Sometimes It’s a Lonely Road,” “My World’s Getting Smaller,” “Good Morning Funeral” and “New Endings New Beginnings” seem very personal to me, and I actually think they make two songs – “Gas Station Blues” and “Chance in Hell” (which features a rather confused-sounding Jim Cuddy) – like pure filler by comparison. Dove does so well when they’re breaking down the barrier that typically exists between artist and audience, and if there’s one lesson to be learned from the greatest hits found on Hopeless Romantic, it’s that being unguarded is something unquestionably responsible for this artist’s style sounding magical.

Other than Cuddy’s bizarre appearance in “Chance in Hell,” the overall tracklist flow this record enjoys is quite the appealing element in itself. It’s nice to be able to sit back with an album and let it play out similarly to a campfire-style storytelling session, even with there being some moments more profoundly passionate than others are, and for a singer/songwriter cultivating an identity akin to an old fashioned country troubadour, this kind of an attribute could put their work over the top for a lot of newcomers to their sound. This is definitely a folkier LP than I anticipated, but one I love no matter the branding.

If you’re just now finding out about Bobby Dove for the first time, you’re not alone – this horribly underexposed singer/songwriter contributes a sophomore album in Hopeless Romantic that demands a reaction out of anyone who gives it a spin, and if its title track can find a home somewhere on college radio, I believe Dove won’t be able to remain in underground obscurity for much longer. There are a lot of fun and exciting new records debuting in 2021, but out of the limited Canadian underground, this is one you really shouldn’t skip.

Sebastian Cole