Right from the start, Tornado Sky possesses an incredible warmth in the interplay of its underpinning instrumental trio. Pasch may be the frontman but his choice of Kevin Fallon as backup guitar player was an exceedingly wise move (along with Jarrod Hartley on a perpetually mellow bass). The two play gorgeous melodies in an intimate setting, weaving and flowing around one other in deceptively complex patterns and short, simply stated, but impeccable lead runs. I'm guessing Pasch provides the bedrock chord work, engagingly finger-plucked and precise to a fare-thee-well, Fallon locking down atop, stepping out for lead work. Strong echoes of DeGrassi textures provide a foundation here, and more than a few passages remind the listener of old Al Stewart LPs and that gent's duo work with Tim Renwick, Isaac Guillory, and Peter Wood.
Then there's the matter of Pasch's vocal delivery and lyrics. In the first, he presents a straightforward cadence culled directly from country & western refrains, providing an unusual marriage to what is chiefly folk material, not unlike what Kristofferson pulled off with his records. Pasch's voice, though, is far more listenable, almost a perfect cross between Kristofferson and Gordon Lightfoot, though not nearly as polished as Gordon's golden tones. In several cuts, like Angry Boy, Fallon drops in a pedal steel or mando to perfectly complement wheatfield atmospheres, further imbuing a constantly suggested Great Plains vibe.
I Could be Wrong and Hurricane evoke the 60s' sub-genre of semi-sprechestimmed political and situational commentary infrequently employed by various folk biggies, a kind of mockery of TV's dulcet-toned persuaders. Much of Tornado Sky, though, is melancholy (folk's #1 wont), rendered poignant through the instruments but leveled by Pasch's Everyman singing, honest though not always inflected to fit what might otherwise be more apt. This, then, leads into the lyrics, similarly a mixture of the touching and the plain, but sometimes metaphorically weak.
In Somewhere in the World, we get this:
Somewhere in the world it's warm today
…almost intolerably twee, but, in the title cut, a regretful view of suicide and loss is unfolded in:
There was a Tornado Sky the day you left
And moving on was just too hard
…not quite perfected but strong and a nice collision of mystery and image.
The CD, in sum, is a mixed bag of Old School folk, C&W, and even a hint of Burl Ives here and there (Pasch has that same ursine stature, too), very well recorded, professional, and unusual. He's missing a sure thing in not including several purely instrumental cuts to offset the varying palette of emotionalism in his work, a panoply that includes selections which may be at first unsettlingly down-home but which grow on you, despite a various flaws. Overall, the guy has a compelling sense of things and is very close to creating top-drawer work, especially, and I can't speak to this element enough, on his purely musical side.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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