Inspired by the classic songwriters, the New Folk wave from the 90s, and all sorts of other, wonderful people, his particular influences are people like Natalie Merchant, Tori Amos, Mark Knopfler, Gretchen Peters, Robert Cray, Lori McKenna, Anna Tivel, Patty Griffin, Jimmy Webb, Bill Withers, Chris Rea, John Mayer, Jason Isbell, Lionel Richie, Jeffrey Foucault, Shane Smith, Bruce Springsteen, John Gorka, Richard Shindell, Jay Farrar, Emmylou Harris, Neil Finn, Mark Nevin and Bap Kennedy in... no order whatsoever.
McNeill began playing in his teens. He made most of his mistakes in other people's bands before releasing a series of solo albums in the 2000s, two of which won Best Folk Album at the New Zealand Music Awards. His three year collaboration with Orcadian fiddler Kenny Ritch, Ben the Hoose, resulted in the album The Little Cascade, which also won Best Folk Album. In 2010 he released the retrospective Me and Mary Ann, and moved on to non-music projects. People thought he'd died.
After an extended sabbatical he returned to music in 2016 and began to record a backlog of rediscovered songs, mostly written before Me and Mary Ann but never worked up. Many of the songs were written during extended stays in California and were influenced by the Spanish-tinged American music he fell in love with in Santa Barbara. He recruited the prodigiously talented Emily Roughton and Rob Henderson for the recordings. The group turned into Project Feijoa, and the recording into their album The California Tapes, which was released in 2019.
While touring North America with old friend and fiddle player Gillian Boucher in 2019, Bob began writing the songs that became Lost Stars. They took an unforgettable journey around New England in the fall, before finishing the tour on the Oregon coast. At night, he played among legends, drank whichever bourbon was location-appropriate, looked out at whichever ocean was handy, and scribbled away. Boarding the plane home in LA, he had ten songs, sorta kinda. When New Zealand went into lockdown in March 2020, there was space to finish them. Working alone in a makeshift studio, he decided to release the album track by track, as the songs were finished. In 2022 he partly re-recorded and re-mixed Lost Stars and re-released it.