One of the more beneficial elements of having as huge a record collection as I do is the practice of buying and saving discs against the advent of a time when their tone and meaning might be more accessible as one's aesthetics grow. Back when I was consuming King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, and the Moody Blues with a ravening passion, I also picked up a mean mess of folk, bluegrass, and other LPs for a future date, the Incredible String Band's releases among them. At the time, my reaction to ISB's materials was "Huh?", but I recently gave 'em another go and was astounded, running through The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter the other day, at how damn good they were. I mean really great! Thus, when I received Tom Bolton's latest, Dreaming and Dancing, I was prepared for a slice of his work I hadn't recognized in the review to his last (here).
Dreaming is a rich warm sea of elder sensibilities, a harkening back to what succeeded the troubadour and minstrel traditions, a milieu best found in New York's Village and London's pubs in the 60s and 70s. Bolton's work stands well with Ralph McTell, The Strawbs, Donovan, Cat Stevens, Harry Chapin, and then more modernly luxurious neo-folksters like Leigh Gregory and others. In fact, I more than once found kindred elements more recently had in Stevens' new identity as Yusuf Islam, as in the historied gent's The Other Cup. You can hear the chamber orchestralism in the opuses of both he and Bolton even when the works are stripped down.
Here, though, Bolton boasts an armada of a dozen sessioneers who weave a highly melodious harmonic atmosphere (the intro to Road to Knowing is dazzling, a John Martyny / Bob Welch-ish [Fleetwood Mac era] number that achieves much with little and rings with the ethereality of Bruce Cockburn's Lord of the Starfields) throughout the slab, against which Tom's voice mellifluously extemporizes, extolling melancholic ambitions, cognizances of the real world, wistful dreams of possibilities. The follower, Crying Day, masterfully carries the vibe forward, shunting the listener into reverie. CD Baby even goes so far as to cite David Sylvian as an RIYL (Recommended If You Like), which is intriguing, but I'll match 'em and call 'em and add Duncan Browne as well. Tom Bolton's is a vintage soul, his music is vintage music, even on the very moment it's released, and if you find yourself yearning for the elder of days within your own lifetime, you'll be hard-put to locate better fare than this.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles