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Paul Thorn

SO FAR SO GOOD • Paul Thorn

I have never been a fan of live recordings in general. The live versions of tunes rarely top the studio versions, and without being caught up in the moment of actually being there, one tends to notice rough edges that are acceptable when they slip off into the ether of a show but that don't bear up under repeated listening. Thorn's latest evades most of these traps through excellent sound, studio-quality performances, and the singer's engaging and humorous between-song patter.

DVD stills

This combination DVD/CD package of live performances acts as a summing up of Thorn's career--such as it is--to date. The former preacher, chair factory worker, prizefighter (he went toe-to-toe with Roberto Duran), has managed to make a living purveying his unique brand of Southern Soul/Pop/Rock for a number of years now, flying below the radar of mainstream media, by delivering great songs, leavened with wry humor and peopled with outstanding characters. In the Soul and Country tradition, his gravelly voice sings of mature themes like marriage and divorce with great feeling, and without self-pity or irony.

His last record, Are You With Me?, was a smooth-Soul masterpiece: a wealth of terrific tunes, arranged imaginatively and played impeccably. Between the DVD and CD it is well-represented here, with his fantastic band--featuring many of the musicians on the original record--well up to the task of reproducing the instrumental and background vocal brilliance of that gem. Still, Thorn wisely weights his live show toward some of the more rocking numbers from his earlier records.

Visually, Thorn and his band will never be mistaken for rock stars, but they perform with a palpable sense of energy and enjoyment. As a huge fan of the artist, and since he rarely brings his band to my neck of the woods, I welcome So Far So Good with open arms, and heartily recommend it as a great introduction to the man's smooth, funny, funky music.
• Michael Ross

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paulthorn.com      top photo by Bob Hakins

our interview with Paul Thorn

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