“I thought I was making a Blues record all the way, but with covers of The Sonics and Captain Beefheart, I’m guessing most people won’t think that,” says Tom of this, his eighth album – his fifth since 2009!
I beg to differ, Mr Dyer!
Essentially this still quite obviously a Blues album - albeit with the blended incorporation and influence of various other genres on the way. And I would suggest (although I haven’t heard any of his previous material) that Tom puts his own ‘signature’ on most of the songs by way of some discordant guitar solos.
This works well up to a point, but ‘discordant’ never sounds better than when delivered by saxophone – evidence early Roxy Music and many No Wave bands for example. And so it is with the second song in, ‘(People Want To Be ) Free’ which also features a jazzy bass-line. But it’s the guitar that creates the early impression on the opening track ‘The Ballad of Carlton IV.‘ The little hook sounds quite out of tune – in a good way – in a song that melds Blues and Country in a Sons and Daughters fashion.
Perhaps it was Tom’s gruff vocal style ( and that crazy sax, man) that had me initially thinking there was a slight Captain Beefheart feel to the early tracks. And then my suspicions are confirmed. It’s a brave man that takes on a cover of the ol’ Captain, but I think Tom manages well on ‘Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig.)‘ It doesn’t stray too far from the original, but the banjo sound gives it a slightly lighter feel.
‘Pass The Jug,‘ then heads off down a more Folk route, with mandolin, guitar and banjo (I think) combining in a light and airy instrumental. ‘Call On Me,’ bounces along, complete with hand-claps and what sounds like an out of tune sitar, before ‘John the Revelator,‘ takes on a cloak of dark gospel, leading into the even darker ‘There Be Killin’ (In My Town.)’
‘The Witch‘ is a cover of The Sonics‘ song and carries the stomp and attitude of say, The Cramps, but with added menace. ‘I Am Fretless’ is a five minute instrumental with fuzzed-up guitar while ‘Walkin’ In The Sky‘ is a more obvious Blues track, with growled vocals and an incessant stomp. This is followed by ‘Rollin’ On The Clay,’ which because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere, is my least favourite track of the thirteen. ‘Lizzy‘ perks things up a little, with Tom adopting a softer tone and the song itself sounding much like a generic Seventies Rock band’s token ‘acoustic’ track. It’s nice, mind.
The album closes with the rather moribund ‘The Day I Died.’ You can probably guess how that one sounds.
Overall, ‘I Ain’t Blue Any More,’ is a decent album, but personally I would have dropped say three tracks to keep it sounding fresh and concise. I think the impact would have been better had the fifty -two minutes duration been curtailed at say thirty-five / forty max. (It does slightly outstay its welcome)
This is pretty much a solo effort in the truest sense of the word, with Tom playing every instrument as well as recording, mixing and mastering the record. Indeed, Tom is also the head honcho of the Green Monkey Records label that released the album!
So, what do I know …..??!!!
(‘I Ain’t Blue Any More’ is released through Green Monkey Records and is available now – February 2013)
(7.5 / 10)