A former member of 80s Philadelphia outfit Go To Blazes, Tom Heyman released his solo debut album in 2000, following up in 2005 with Deliver Me. Since then, however, he’s pretty much been a musician for hire, playing live or on record for the likes of Chuck Prophet, The Court & Spark, John Doe, Hiss Golden Messenger and Mojo Nixon. However, 10 years on, he’s finally made a third album, That Cool Blue Feeling showcases his fine work on acoustic, electric and slide guitars as well as his slightly grained and rasped baritone which carries the emotions of his songs well. Americana roots is the playing field, though you half expect the opening number, Black Top, to turn into I Heard It Through The Grapevine before the familiar riff settles into a laid-back JJ Cale groove. More representative, perhaps, are the breathily-sung, light breeze Cool Blue , a world-weary, tremolo-guitar coloured number about the ennui of the working life with vague echoes of Orbison, the Gordon Lightfoot touches of Time And Money’s tale of a disintegrating relationship that comes with an almost baroque pop keyboard trill, the train rhythm Bakersfield country of the down and out and desperate Number 9 and simple acoustic guitar backed self-loathing closer waltz Losers Like Me.
He rocks things up in a Tom Petty-ish manner with the plangent Keep the River On Your Right and gets bluesy for Always Be Around, but the stained vocal is more suited to quieter, more introspective moments such as the twilight hours mood of hushed, whispery In The Nighttime World, the percussion kept to a simple click of stick on stick, and, although it’s a little overlong for such a simple melody, the memories of ride thumbing youth that inform Chickenhawks and Jesus Freaks, showcases his slide guitar work.
As part of the musical wardrobe, it’s no designer jacket worn to impress, but, like a pair of old jeans, it is something you can slip into easy when you just want to stretch back awhile.
Review by: Mike Davies
Blacktop (European Video Premiere)
The video for ‘Black Top’ is a B-movie kind of spoof inspired by Monte Hellman’s “Two Lane Blacktop”. It was made with director Steve Hanft (Beth Orton, John Spencer).
For those that love music trivia Tom had some help from some fellow artists in the making of the video – The guy sitting in the booth grooving to the tune in the final scene in the bar is Senon Williams of Dengue Fever and The Radar Brothers; exteriors are mostly in Palmdale and Lancaster in the high desert and interior bar shoot is at Footsie’s in Cypress Heights, the bar owned by Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs.
UK Release March 2015