Monday, December 11, 2017

Thomas Abban - A Sheik's Legacy (2017)

Written by William Elgin, posted by blog admin

Rock n’ roll has been in dire need of a savior for quite some time.  It’s hard to find interesting acts these days, let alone people with a vision that goes beyond settling on and staying in one style and one style only.  Thomas Abban could be the man up for the job of saving or at least resuscitating rock, thanks to his dizzying, wild-eyed debut album, A Sheik’s Legacy.  With an orchestral sense of arrangement, many of the album’s 15 tunes pass through “movements” or “passages” on their way to the finish line and many of the songs end up in far different territory from whence they began.  It’s a testament to Abban’s immaculate writing and composing as well as the reason why this album works the whole way through and its after effects are long-lasting. 

The record’s first four songs alone cover a lot of musical ground.  Mournful and elegiac, “Death Song” conjures up an acoustic trance of wayward, soulful instrumentation that takes a good 4 minutes and change to finally launch into a distorted, riff-tastic crescendo.  “Symmetry & Black Tar” is full of progressive twists and turns; lively acoustic guitar licks sweeping across pile-driving tom-tom fills and thundercrack bass lines grooving steadily along keep things in the red yet the song never goes into an outright frenzy.  Abban saves the frenzy for bruising, beef-up guitar figures on “Fear” and “Aladdin,” a pair of brawny blues-rock hammers that drive home riff after riff of old school songwriting. 

As the record moves into its second phase, the songwriting opens up into arid, open range acoustic textures with songs that trot and traipse but never lapse in holding your attention.  The gusty, bluesy guitar shades, acoustic transitions, heavy drums and whistling vocal melodies of “Time to Think” acts as a calmer interpretation of the hearty riffing of the prior two cuts, settling the album down into the elaborate, finger-picked folk of “Horizons” which smacks of some subtle Dylan influence.  World weary blues is the order of the day on “Sinner” where Abban’s voice wavers between smooth and smoky to a shrieking howl.  Neoclassical strings and symphonic elements add some meat to the bones of the tune’s very traditional framework.  Delta acoustic blues and Nashville country elements wash to the forefront of “Don’t You Stay The Same” and “Let Me Tell You Something,” both tracks relishing largely stripped-down, solo-songwriter ethics with “Irene” applying those same standards to a wandering folk-pop ditty.  “Lord” dips into similar waters before the album goes back to the hard and heavy stuff with the crushing guitar surgery of “Uh,” the fiery atmospherics contained in “Echo,” “Black Water” and “Born of Fire” making for a superb culmination of A Sheik’s Legacy and its many awesome attributes.   

Abban never plays the same tune twice on his debut and the massive amount of stylistic fluctuation between numbers makes for an impressive and engaging listen.  Each tune is very much an individual piece that stands on its own two legs without the songs around it being simply used to buttress any weakness.  A Sheik’s Legacy is all killer and no filler!

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