30 September 2016 (released)
15 October 2016
Tommy Hale has been off the scene for a while – eight years since his last – and he has said that the songs on this album and the recording process was “emotionally difficult” and listening to it you hear the difficult themes and situations. What you hear as well though is a collection of recordings that are at once upbeat and subtly emotive and some playing that is just exquisite.
Right from the start of the title track he is putting out heartfelt memories of an old friend and reminiscing about the usual high jinks expected of American teens in Texas, all that over a rock and roll groove that reminds me of Tom Petty at his best.
He leads straight into a real alt.country ballad in the lovely ‘Homecoming Mum’ where he reminisces about the tradition of pinning a bouquet on a sweetheart.
‘Backburner’ is outright rock with ballsout drumbeats and fuzzed guitars while ‘Sonrisas y sunshine’ has a heavy, thudding, beat and strident organ set alongside his harsh vocals.
The moods all through the album are those of memories and looking back to better – and worse – times but the standout number is probably ‘Save Me (The Ballad of Odell Barnes Jr)’ which looks at the shock of hearing that an old schoolfriend is on death row for murder and about to be given a lethal injection. It is almost Floyd-like in structure but darker than anything Waters has done for many years and I can see it as a live anthem to pull tears out of the hardest hearts.
As an album it is one of the most satisfying I’ve heard this year. The playing is superb and the songwriting is quite remarkable.