Thursday, August 21, 2014

add 1102 Paul Thorn

Paul Thorn got started in show biz at the age of three when he got on-stage to perform with his father, a Pentecostal preacher. Since then he's been a furniture maker and boxer, which may explain his rough-hewn, hard-hitting style. His songwriting draws from that deep well of sanctified intensity, always delivering true-to-life vignettes that will make you laugh out loud even as they make your hair stand on end. His blend of gospel, R&B, rock, blues, and country is called Americana these days, but it's a throwback to the early days of rock when all Southern music, black and white, infused the songwriting of working-class guys and gals looking for a way out of their poverty with nothing but a guitar and a compelling story to tell. Thorn brings to mind a Southern-born Springsteen with his gruff, forceful delivery, but he also has a deadly sense of humor that's peculiarly Southern. Case in point: "I'm Still Here," a song about watching his neighbor getting run down by a car. Its combination of roadhouse grit and gospel exuberance looks death in the face with a wink and a "Glory hallelujah!" A funky snare and popping bass guitar introduce "Crutches," a song about drugs, booze, and rehab. The jaunty music belies the serious nature of the lyric as the singer dreams of freedom while still embracing his own personal hell. The rolling of distant thunder and a simple guitar figure open "Burnin' Blue," a dirge about lost love. A pedal steel adds its eerie accents to Thorn's desolate vocal. "What Have You Done to Lift Somebody Up" has a more straightforward message of hope -- part gospel rave-up, part blues shuffle, and downright uplifting. "Starvin for Your Kisses" is gloriously sensual, with Thorn's sneaky, seductive vocal testifying to the power of pure sex. "A Long Way from Tupelo" is a short story with a nasty twist at the end, a tale of flat tires and inflated desire sung with the deadpan humor that's Thorn's trademark. The bandmembers are tough and gritty throughout, and by blending their gospel-infused licks with Thorn's sweaty profane growl, they've come up with something oddly unique, a sound that's spiritual and carnal at the same time.


No comments: