Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tokyo Rosenthal Tokyo's Fifth Rock & Sock 2013

The epitome of what a singer / songwriter should be all about...the next gig, the next record.

The classic singer / songwriter is normally not an artist in the strictest sense of the word. Singer / songwriters as they have been come to be known and occassionally type cast are in fact musical enigmas with that special gift of connectivity through stories pulled from experiences we all can relate to. Tokyo Rosenthal transcends the stereotypical singer / songwriter and moves gracefully into the artist category of lyrical expression of what he refers to as "Rootsy Americana" with influences such as The Byrds, Gene Clark and Emmylou Harris with some Janis Joplin flavor tossed in for a little grit just to keep things interesting. The country rock phenomenon was a boon to Rosenthal's career but his path has been somewhat stealth while flying just below the musical radar of larger labels, radio, and potential audiences drawn from these platforms.

Tokyo's Fifth is the latest effort from Rosenthal which combines a delightful charm with an eclectic folk base steeped in solid melodic progressions and organic instrumentation while embracing that alternative country vibe that borders on addictive. Perhaps the biggest surprise on Tokyo's Fifth is the stripped down acoustic burner "Helter Skelter" from the Lennon / McCartney catalog. The amazing part of this reharm is that the arrangement works proving a good lyric can transcend any arbitrary tag a critic or label executive decide to hang their hat on when describing an artist. "Smoke And Mirrors" is another acoustic breakdown with a strong lyrical presence as well as some sophisticated changes that hearken back to classic Byrds reinvented by a true artistic original. The smoldering Tex-Mex vibe here celebrates the classic less is more calling card that would seem to be the wheelhouse Rosenthal enjoys operating from most.
Charlie Chamberlain's performance on lead guitar pushes "Smoke And Mirrors" into a new flavor zone that defies standard categorization.

It is rare for a singer / songwriter to be able to work without a net as is the case with Tokyo Rosenthal who offers a clear alternative to country fans seeking music with more meat on it's bones and rock fans looking for "anything" to fill the gaping void in their genre for the first real troubadour since Bob Dylan.

An incredibly entertaining release not mired in popular convention but an Independent artist that is comfortable with who he is and where he is going.

4 Stars

Tracks: This Ship Will Sail; Waste Of A Heart; Mulberry Place; What Did I Used To Be?; The Immigrant; Helter Skelter; Killaloe; Smoke And Mirrors; We Put You Down; Thank You, You're Beautiful; Bonus Video: What Did I Used To Be?

Personnel: Tokyo Rosenthal: vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, piano, drums, organ; Chris Stamey: bass; Andrea Connolly: vocals 2 & 8; John Teer: fiddle 1,2,3,6,7; Will Rigby: drums 1,2,3,4; Logan Matheny: drums 5,6,8,9; Charlie Chamberlain: mandolin 5, lead guitar 8; Allyn Love: pedal steel guitar 3,4,9; Matthew Douglas: clarinet 1; David DiGiuseppe; accordion 5; "Raul of Bayonne" percussion.