Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - Ty Tabor - Something's Coming

I don't mean to sound like a crusty ol' curmudgeon but I know that this man is capable of so much more. And The Choir, while it's a good album and I'm grateful that they release new music even if it IS five years between albums (at least it's not ten years and counting like Daniel Amos) but it's not the classic that all the raving fanboys are saying. It's solid B songwriting with A+ production.

Music nerds such as myself have a detailed and complicated relationship with the artists who supply the fodder of their addiction. Case in point is Ty Tabor. He is a founding member of King’s X, a band whose early albums filled my life with hours of enjoyment. Then they put out a few mediocre albums and I stuck with them. Then Ty released a solo album which I dutifully bought, mostly to find out if he was the reason for the magic of King’s X. It too was somewhat bland though often showing promise if only the right producer had taken the reigns and prodded the artist to greater heights. For over a decade now I’ve been dutifully buying King’s X albums with the unmet hope that they will one day hit their earlier greatness. I have also spent the same decade buying Ty Tabor solo albums with the same “ho-hum” results.

Something’s Coming is the sixth time I’ve forked money over to this man and once again, or rather “still”, he has some great ideas that just need a strong driver to force him to go that extra mile to make it superb. The good news is that if you liked his past solo albums then you will not be let down. Furthermore if you liked his stupendous guitar tone in the past then you have nothing to fear for Tabor coaxes another bevy of tones that will leave guitar-tone-junkies drooling on their amps. These astounding tones are used to form intense walls of sound for songs that, for the most part, don’t get out of third gear.

Lyrically this album has some strong moments but for the most part Tabor remains somewhat aloof, eschewing the painfully personal lyrics of his Jelly Jam side project, lyrics whose vulnerability made them horrendously appealing. Instead he looks to themes of personal liberation, clearly evident in “Free Yourself” which sports an unorthodox guitar solo that will leave some scratching their heads. Tired of being yanked around, “Politician’s Creed” takes aim at both sides of the aisle and seeks freedom from their equally greedy tyranny. In “Mr. Freeze” Tabor uses his relaxed southern voice to implore tolerance in the arena of ideas with “I don’t expect you to be like me / So don’t expect me to be like you.” Gorgeous vocal harmonies adorn “Slow Down Sister,” a slow simmer of a song which cautions an un-named woman against giving up her freedom by rushing into marriage. And so it goes through the rest of the album, culminating in the ominous “Something’s Coming” where a massive end of album chorus caps lyrics of “I don’t know what it is / But I can fit it / It’s in the air.”

Something’s Coming won’t spin your head around with musical innovations, but it’s not trying to. At this stage in his career Ty Tabor can easily write and record great songs and sees little need in shaking up his comfortable routine. The result are professional, well written songs a bit too much on the comfy side. Maybe I’m expecting too much but it’s difficult to be content with a nicely dressed gourmet burger when you know darn well that the man is capable of filet mignon tender enough to cut with a rubber spatula.

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