Bill Toms and band come growling out of The Steel City, Pittsburg, with a sound that is at times sheer raw power, and when not making things so hot on the stage that spontaneous combustion is a distinct possibility there is in his songs the delicate touch of a poet with a yarn to spin. He is an accomplished storyteller and on this disc he recounts eleven of his own tales, and one, Let's Make A Better World, that is penned by Earl King. He writes with a Midwest sensibility and intellect that is tempered by Will Kimbrough's Alabama roots and Nashville guidance. Kimbrough also produced this disc as well as playing guitars, bass, mandolin, harmonica and contributing background vocals.
The songs are a mixed variety of tempos and are of a universal nature, as they can be fit in many situations tempered by that kind of Heartland sensibility. They are the stories most of humanity has had to deal with at one time or another, breakups of friendships, romances, saying good-bye, finding one's place in the world in spiritual way, and other related matters. There is a poignancy in most of the stories that at times hits home, however a couple of times that spark which brings the story to life is missing and the song just floats on by, most times, though, it pops out at you. The band is tight and sticks right with him and of course you have a veteran with a world of experience, Will Kimbrough, in there to fortify the band, and provide extra sparks, both as the producer and as a musician. Don't get me wrong Bill Toms brings a world of experience to this project by himself. For 20 or so years he was lead guitarist for Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, and Bruce Springsteen produced their initial effort. There is a lot of music here that has a strong voice to it even though the name might not yet be familiar.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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