By Gary Graff
Posted March 21, 2019
Remember that nice, pleasant, folky singer that Bobby Long used to be? Not on the British-born troubadour’s new video for "Nautical," premiering exclusively below from Long's latest album, Sultans.
The clip, directed by pal Arthur Douglass, depicts Long as a creepy, cardigan sweater-wearing stalker who drugs and kidnaps a musician -- played by collaborator and Sultans co-producer Jack Dawson -- from a club and holds him captive, Misery-like, in a barn shed, forcing Dawson to play a mock concert with him before an audience of mannequins and lambs. Dawson eventually escapes, but the video ends with a twist that shows us Long's sinister character is not yet finished.
"I wanted to show a different side of myself -- a bit more carefree and less serious," Long, who now lives in Jersey City, N.J., tells Billboard. "I've done, like, one music video before, but I wasn't in it. I wanted to play on the relationship between me and Jack Dawson, who's one of my best friends. When we made it, I hadn't done acting in a long time. I really turned into Johnny Deep making Pirates of the Caribbean; I was, like living the role for a day. It was really fun making it."
Long does, however, acknowledge that "Nautical" "came out slightly creepier than we thought, so I'm a little bit nervous. I hope people see the sense of humor." And, as the video's conclusion indicates, they may get a chance to see Long in that guise again. "We kind of wanted to leave it open in case we wanted to do another one, potentially, and give that (character) another story."
The image tweak comes at the same time Long made a significant musical change on Sultans. Stepping away from the folky flavor of his previous albums -- a career that started a decade ago with two self-released sets -- Sultans offers a more fully fleshed sound that Long acknowledges owes a debt to the Beatles and other Britpop of the '60s variety. "I really don't go in with each album deliberately thinking of one thing or another," Long says. "I listen to lots of different kinds of music and write lots of different kinds of songs. What you hear is a natural coming together of different influences and situations. Jack and I love the Beatles, love a lot of '60s music, and that really came to the forefront as we were doing it." And it's still there, according to Long, even as he tours to support Sultans.
"The songs I'm writing now, they're less folk-based and more kind of in the realm of the Kinks, the Beatles or the Zombies," he says. "I've always really been into that music; I just wasn’t writing those songs at the time. It feels very natural. It's just the direction that suits the songs best. That's always what I'm after."
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