CD review Paul Thorn- What The Hell IS Goin On?
Heavyweight rocker, boxer, painter and poet from Tupelo Mississippi Paul Thorn has been at the top of the American Roots Music scene for close to a decade now. His music speaks to the everyday struggles of life in a way that few others can emulate. His latest album ‘What the Hell is Goin’ On’ has risen to the top of the Roots 66,Roots Music Report and Americana Music Association charts. Thorn’s eighth album ,What The Hell Is Goin’ On? Released May 8th on Perpetual Obscurity/Thirty Tigers Records, finds Thorn putting his own gritty rock stamp on some of his favorite songs. There are some names familiar to Americana fans (Buddy Miller, Ray Wylie Hubbard), some lesser-known (Foy Vance, Wild Bill Emerson) and some surprises. The Buckingham/Nicks tune,” Don’t Let Me Down,” Again originated on that duo’s debut, not during the Fleetwood Mac era that Thorn turned into a Tulsa style boogie. The Paul Rogers/Free song that Thorn chose to cover is an obscure one, Walk In My Shadow, delivered with a pounding guitar riff.
The set covers subjects that are familiar territory to Thorn, from the spiritual pull of Miller’s sweet classic R&B tune “Shelter Me Lord,” to the spirited fun of a man playing at being a hound dog in Big Al Anderson’s boogaloo “Jukin’.” Thorn, so skilled with his own character studies, plays storyteller with such lurid tales as Hubbard’s swamp rocker “Snake Farm.” and Emerson’s southern rock sing along “Bull Mountain Bridge,” featuring a Delbert Mclinton on guest vocals.
What The Hell’s centerpiece is the powerful title track, a blistering look at life in modern times that was penned by blues-rock icon Elvin Bishop. Thorn persuaded long time friend Bishop to play some scorching slide guitar on the tune punctuating the poignant statement with fire.
The strong twelve track album, produced by Sweet Tea and Black Eyed Pea, finds Thorn taking a break from his own songwriting but not his idiosyncratic point of view, and superb musician ship. This album should no doubt be making best of lists all year, it certainly is on mine.
For more info, music and video go to: www.paulthorn.com
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Rick J Bowen