Bob Boilen is the long-time host of the NPR Tiny Desk concert series. In this book he introduces us to a variety of musicians whose work he enjoys, and who have appeared on the show. The musicians span a variety of genres, but most typically are singer-songwriters.
The author’s writing style is breezy, positive, and easy to follow. There are times when the reader might have preferred more in-depth portraits that traced the career arc of the performers. Some questions Boil doesn’t deal with are how each artist’s style has developed, changed, stayed the same, or even stagnated. Because there are so many artists discussed – 35 – after a while their careers seem to meld into one another. It might have been useful for the reader if Boilen had done a short, introductory chapter on the Tiny Desk series, or had elaborated on it during his autobiographical introduction. As the reader goes deeper into the book, the constant references to the author’s NPR show, and his band, Tiny Desk Unit, become a bit redundant. There is also very spare coverage of jazz or classical music.
On the positive side of the ledger, a number of the artists are not widely known and the book will serve to afford them some exposure to possible new audiences. The author has brewed up an interesting mix of “stars” like Jimmy Page and comparatively little-known artists.
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