Thursday, 17 January 2013

C.R. THORN – ALBUM REVIEW

C.R. Thorn - All The Things You Told Me

C.R. Thorn – All The Things You Told Me

You know that couple that you know that you love hanging out with? He’s really funny and she’s really interesting and a little bit flirty. And then they split up and you have to pick sides because they’ll get all funny if you try to stay friends with both of them. Sucks doesn’t it. Well, when the awesome duo Philadelphia Mainline split up I felt a bit like that. So, I waited for the first one to call me and they would be rewarded with my loyalty. C.R. Thorn got there first.

Real name Christian Muncey, C.R. Thorn hails from London town but sounds like he should be dragging his heels and guitar around an old mining town in the old mid-West. This 7 track album has a beautifully rich sound, a depth of character and, if it was a drink, it would be whiskey, straight up and make it a double. ‘Hats Off’ starts us off with a quirky bit of picking and semi-spoken vocals of a man who hasn’t been to bed for days but on 45 seconds something magical happens. The reverb goes up, the bottle necks get applied to the strings and Thorn becomes something somewhere between Cash and Cave. All baritone vocals, doomy cacophonies and a simple but marvellous chorus line of “I’ve got a terrible feeling that here is where the dead lie”. When a man with voice that powerful sounds scared then it creates a beautifully uneasy atmosphere that’s not far removed from walking through a grave yard at night with nobody for company but your own thoughts. Thankfully, for my nerves anyway, ‘Reflections’ kicks in with a slightly more upbeat country blues riff layered with native style backing vocals under that sumptuous voice that could be a recording from an old wax cylinder if I wasn’t sure I’d met the man in the last few years. That Grinderman sound is back on ‘Is It You’ with lurching, rumbling, bottom heavy riffs and an atmospheric tone that suggests Thorn could score a film without having to put the glass down.

If it’s possible for an album of only 7 tracks to be an album of two halves then Thorn has achieved that. ‘Too Many Times’ swaggers and churns in to life and immediately lifts the tempo of the album. The bass is still gravelly and the drums simple but the attitude is pure Jon Spencer and the lyrics are reminiscent of one of my favourite Kiwi bands, the much underrated Shihad. Then ‘What I Got’ turns up like a duet between Cash and Carter, resplendent in its own countrified simplicity as an ode to being happy with what life gives you and not expecting more. It also features one of the most honest lines in a love song that I’ve ever heard, “Give me your heart, I’ll give you my soul, If I let you down I’ll never let you go.” Just let it run around your head a while and tell me that doesn’t apply to you and the great love of your life. Similarly, ‘All Grace And No Airs’ is a sparse love song in the style of I Am Kloot or Grohl’s more tender moments. The album finishes up with ‘Molly’s Bar’ which, although not a rip off, sounds like it was meant to be the follow on to the Doors’ ‘Alabama Song (Whiskey Song)’ and gives you the perfect mental image of our troubadour steadily pacing off in to the smokey distance to play songs to a new audience.

I’m glad C.R. Thorn got in touch. ‘All The Things You Told Me’ is a beautiful album and worth anybody’s time. Alternatively, trawl the whiskey bars of London and you’ll find him eventually. And anyway, that other guy was a douche so I didn’t want to be friends with him anymore....(he wasn’t really, I’m just saying that so I don’t hurt Thorn’s feelings. Balls. I think he just heard that. God I hate awkward social situations).

More information: http://crthorn.bandcamp.com/

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