Review by Nick Charles
It’s been many years since I last caught a set from Tom, perhaps ten or fifteen years in fact, and I hadn’t forgotten the laid-back profound style of country and country-blues he exhibited.
The real test was whether his sound and delivery could be captured, and consequently, I approached my first listen with trepidation, born from countless disappointing modern “roots” recordings.
Simply put, I was knocked out with what I heard – this is how it’s done!
Tom’s acoustic picking and slide playing, always tidy and tasteful, has solidified to pure bed-rock, and his singing is a revelation.
No histrionics, no pretence, simply tuneful, soulful and to the point.
Tom tells the story as it’s meant to be told, either in his great choice of covers (John Hurt, Steve Earl, Tom T. Hall etc.) or his excellent original compositions.
The originals tell of a world weary traveller with keen senses, occasional wit and precautionary tales, especially the opener, “It Won’t Matter to Me” and “After the Show”.
There’s a lovely rendition of Tom T. Hall’s “Pamela Brown”, made famous by Leo Kottke, and Steve Earl’s “Hometown Blues” gets a delightfully extended workout.
A warm ambience throughout is further enhanced by a great guest line-up that includes Steve Williams’ fine harmonica and backing vocals, Peter Howell’s satisfying double bass, and Greg Hunt’s tasty fiddle and mandolin.
Tom’s daughter, Kaitlin, joins in too for a little extra harmony.
These “Fireside Sessions” could and should serve as a template for aspiring blues and roots recording artists.
As the liner note says, there are “no gimmicks or over production”- a subtle reminder of the way acoustic music used to be made, and can still be made, when the skill and the soul combine.
This product was added to our catalog on Sunday 21 January, 2018.