Tom House – Someone Digging In the Underground
Tom House has a new album out titled Songs Like Dreams… More Like Blood. It is another in a string of recorded triumphs for Mr. House, a step back in time in more ways than one. While I will be writing a review of it, I wanted some of you to pick up on a previous album (or all of his previous albums, if you are wont to do so), an album which brought home to me the real importance of roots not just in music but in culture. While Winding Down the Road was released in 2012, it is true in its case that music is truly timeless. Here is what I wrote back then:
Tom House. Mark that name. And I’m not talking about the baseball player. I’m talking about the musician. If you’ve never heard of him, don’t feel left out. Not many have, even within the rank and file of people who supposedly know something about music. Why not? Since hearing his latest album Winding Down the Road I ask myself that question every day. He’s not the only ‘why not’ in my musical repertoire, but he hovers above most.
Charlottesville’s Keith Morris had been on my ass for awhile to check out Mr. House and I kept thinking, okay, when I have time. When the new album was released, Morris became insistent and, truth be told, downright insulting. I have never heard such a string of pornographic epithets in my life— between the lines, that is— and I finally relented. If Morris was that adamant, I figured it had to count for something.
It counted for one whole lot, it turns out. I didn’t hear Winding Down the Road for a bit after taking the plunge but between Mr. House and Mr. Morris I heard a lot of his music and to say that I became a fan is an understatement. I did some research, found this little piece written by (of all people) Greil Marcus, listened and waited. A few weeks later, Winding found its way to me and I was enthralled. It was not really like anything I had heard before— or maybe it was but I had never heard it done as well. Either way, I decided then and there that getting the word out was paramount and such was the case for Morris and friend Lance Smith at Bottle Tree Films as well and we have formed a bond of sorts, specifically for that purpose. We’re telling everyone we know.
Some will get House right off, others will discount House right off and there will be those who are intrigued. If they give the music a chance, all three of us House freaks believe that he will gain ground— hopefully acres and acres. He is that good.
House told me that this was the first album he had recorded with a real band since his critically acclaimed The Neighborhood Is Changing. Perhaps he needed to be able to recreate the music sans band because it is expensive to put together bands for any purpose these days, especially touring. Perhaps the acoustic influence called. Whatever the reason, it has taken years for House to revisit the sound he created on Neighborhood. It was time. House admits it.
He calls the band “young fellers” which probably means that they are significantly younger in his head. All I can say is that those young fellers fell in lockstep with House on the new album and the resulting sounds make my eyes roll back in my head. What does it sound like? Have you seen the movie The Last Rites of Ransom Pride? Take the oddest aspects of that movie and translate it to music. It encompasses ghost winds on the desert to cemetery gospel to backwoods psych. And I know that tells you nothing.
Tell you what. Read this column I wrote about Winding Down the Road just after hearing it for the first few times. And here is a link to a short piece I wrote about House before I received the Winding CD. Maybe they will help clarify things. I personally don’t understand why anyone would need clarification, but then I am me and you are you and music is personal, no doubt about it. See, I’m just trying to do you a favor. This album could give you a lot of street cred (okay, music cred) and if nothing else could be a good subject at parties. Better than that one-hundred-millionth aural review of Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin. Of course, if you’re smart (like me), you will avoid those parties. Unless you don’t mind falling asleep in your dip.
Oh, if you decide to do a little research on your own, check out his label— Mud Records. House isn’t the only artist there. Take your time. Look around. It’ll be fun.