Hailing from the North of England, as well as four previous solo albums, Tom Blackwell formerly traded under the name of T. G. Elias, releasing a collection of demos back in 2012 that attracted the interest of Bob Harris. Last year, he set out across America, recording Tyrone the Gun, his debut proper in various outdoor Nashville locations, pedal steel courtesy of Chris Hillman, completing the job back in Salford with long-time collaborator Dickon Kyme-Wright.
The result is a terrific collection of Americana that embraces a variety of stylistic influences, opening with the rompingly infectious Broke, Busted & Bruised with its nod to Bob Wills’ Western Swing and the more Sam Cooke soulful doo wop inclined Old & Wiser. From here it moves to blues-shaded twangy shuffles with Low Down Dirty and Put On My Coat (a definite hint of Tennessee Ernie Ford) through the spare, dusty acoustic balladry of Coldest Man Upon The Earth and the lazing, fingerpicked, banjo plucked The Venetian Bullfrog to the falsetto soulful, strings-enhanced Never To Be Seen Again.
The album closes with the superb five and half minute storytelling title ballad where, accompanied by warm horns and harmonica, the influence of Nebraska-era Springsteen comes into play. Reinforcing Blackwell’s lyrical prowess, it and the dusty-voiced, pedal-steel streaked, slowly building widescreen Lowly Roaming Man, are particular standouts on an album where the quality never dips. Although there’s times when the vocals could be higher in the mix, it’s easily one of the best things I’ve heard all year.
Review by: Mike Davies
Live Performance of Raven’s Eye
Out Now via Spoonful Records and available via Bandcamp