Album: Too Blessed to be Stressed
Artist: Paul Thorn
Details: 11 songs; 44 minutes
Who’s Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation
I challenge anyone to not like Paul Thorn. I would recommend that you get to know him through a live performance, but I think that that this week’s album could make a fan out of a new listener. I came to Paul Thorn by accident. We had gone to a concert to see Slaid Cleaves, a singer that Dan really likes. It so happened that this guy named Paul Thorn was headlining. Within minutes of taking the stage, I was won over. His stage charisma is the best I have ever witnessed. The stories that he tells between songs are almost as good as the songs themselves – and that is saying a lot. SInce that first performance, I have seen him many a time. Each show is a delight.
Choosing Paul Thorn’s new album as our album of the week was my excuse to listen to music that I pretty much knew I would enjoy. Mission accomplished. It was a fun to fill my ears the last couple weeks with lines like:
I sin on Saturday / I repent on Sunday / Then I tell myself I won’t procrastinate on Monday / Tuesday I do like I should / Wednesday I do pretty good / Thursday Paul drops the ball / I backslide on Friday
The title of the album might suggest that this album has a religious bent. Well, in a way, yes it does, but it is not in a preachy way. Paul Thorn always is walking the saint/sinner line and he singing about that journey. His daddy was a preacher and an uncle was a pimp. He crafts that dichotomy into story songs that reflect his failure to live up to expectation, but his wonder of the crazy world that he gets to get about in. He enjoys life. He enjoys being naughty, but the sweetness of his core is never in doubt.
Dan seems to think that the naughty side of Paul has been put away with this album, and that he surrenders too fully to the sweet. I think that Dan is too harsh with his critique.
In the 11 songs that make up this album you get a good portrait of the artist. The title song is all about the gift that life is – even when there is much that isn’t that sweet that happens. His southern drawl and his lyrics, backed by a gospel choir, organ, and bluesy guitars brings the message across in a manner that would be as natural in a church as it would be in a honky tonk bar.
One song laments the fact that his drug dealer is dead and the only friends he has left is an old stray dog and Jesus. Mediocrity is King pointedly describes our current political system where a wise man walks and a foolish man rides. And the album closes with a valentine to home – No Place I’d Rather Be.
There have been some albums that we have listened to during this year of listening and reviewing that I struggle to understand the words or the meanings. With Paul Thorn, there is no struggle. Listening is like sitting down over a beer and hearing what is going on with him. You just happen to get pieces of his life in song format. It’s pretty darn enjoyable.
Next Up: Art Official Age by Prince