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Tom Fairnie: Banishment/As Eden Lay In Darkness

Tom Fairnie is an Edinburgh-based poet/singer/songwriter with a rich background of performance and recorded collaborations with other poets and musicians. There are a couple of previous “solo” recordings but these two new discs demonstrate that the man is an inate collaborator – there must be about thirty other musicians and singers credited with an appearance at some point in the proceedings, though the core sound throughout remains Tom himself and his acoustic guitar. He says that he aims for uncluttered arrangements and that is indeed the case – in fact his music is at its most effective when his bruised, Scots Kenny Rogers voice is set against his own beautifully elegant folk guitar style.

              

The songs collected on these two discs go back over the last ten years or so and combine several strands of his work. First and foremost, he’s a poet, in love with words and imagery. He’s a romantic at root and his style seems to reach back to the great nineteenth century poets and to Burns, combining the pithiness of the latter with the yearning romanticism of the former though all the while his eye is on the world around him in the here and now. Secondly, he’s in love with country music and with American self-mythology. Songs about Hank Williams and Bonnie and Clyde are not the only occasions when his imagination drifts across the Atlantic to put himself in a desert landscape or in a border bar, drowning his romantic sorrows in tequila. Thirdly, he enjoys wandering (at least in his imagination) around European scenes of culture and sophistication and, fourthly, he enjoys referencing the music and the writers that have informed his life in performance, from traditional British folk song to You Are My Sunshine. In other words, there is a richness of material here that makes for some enjoyable listening as you let your imagination follow the paths he leads you down. It’s strange, however, that two albums of frequently beautiful, gentle music lack the killer melody that would hook you in – both sets can drift by without a single song demanding to be heard again immediately. A song like I Ain’t Goin’ Dancin’ No More on As Eden Lay in Darkness is as close as he gets to a catchy little number, but it’s left deliberately underpowered, the emphasis remaining on the sadness in the lyric rather than the bounce in the tune.

                  The beautifully produced covers for these discs incorporate booklets that feature poems from Tom’s good friend and colleague, Bob Shields – poems that sit as companion pieces alongside the lyrics to each song. It’s a clear indication of where the heart of this work lies.  

www.tomfairnie.com

John Davy

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Comment by Tom Fairnie on April 2, 2012 at 22:24

Hi John. Thanks for the review; very astute and considered. I really do appreciate all of your comments. In terms of the lack of a killer melody; perhaps I could send you a copy of my previous CD, The Journeyman and you could give a song like My Little Radio a listen. It would be great to convince you that an accessible melody is the first thing I try for. I've provided a link to your review on as many sites as I can and I've let Bob know about it because I'm sure he will also appreciate the review. Don't worry; I'll keep trying to get that killer melody.

PS If you would like a copy of The Journeyman to review I would be extremely happy to send you one, just let me know your contact details.

All good things

Tom

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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