The first thing that stands out about this album as you listen to the first cut, is the
pristine quality and non-linear separation of every single sound. Then once you bring your
jaw up from the floor, you begin to dig the groove of the prominent bass line and
"boom-chucka" snare beat. This is prime for radio. What an incredible
"Kind of starts out like Bonnie Raitt's, "Papa Come Quick" but that's
where the similarities end. The intentionally monotonous melody drones continuously like
tires rolling along the freeway at 80 miles an hour. A nice compliment to the lyrical
intent. "Walking On Ice" There is a certain Guy Clark-meets-Phil Collins
influence at work here. It lingers in the air.......it's infectious. The subtle, seemingly
transparent touches laced within this cut is nothing short of brilliance at work. My kudos
to the chef.
"Love Is Always Gonna Look Just Like You" pop sensibility with the heart of a
folk lyric to keep it grounded. The musicianship is about as professional, tight and
creative as you'll ever hear. "Your Own Backyard" The intro reminds me of Gordon
Lightfoot's, "Sundown". This kind of seductively drags itself like a peacock
during mating season. Feel the electricity........feel the heat. Put this over the
loudspeakers and the floor will be filled to capacity with dirty dancing, guaranteed.
"My Little Wildcat" Now we hit the bluesy side with this little number. It's
a sassy one sprinkled with sultry intentions. Watch out, boys and girls. This will move
you. "She's Just A Girl" A romantic ballad oozing with sensitive, laid-back
instrumentation. Tom uses this original to flaunt his recitation skills. Groovy.
"The Devil and Robert Johnson" Pounding kick and monster accents bring this
song into cult status. It's got an eerie and dangerous beat meant to satisfy that
risk-taking side hiding inside of us all. Are you ready to face it?
"After Midnight" Mixing the sweet salvational buzz of the Hammond organ with
Tom's mellow vocals almost gives this tune a gospel-like implication.
REPEAT.......REPEAT........REPEAT. "The First Time I Saw Mary", is a pretty
song. Simple. Beautiful. Strikingly similar to the stylings of Paul Simon and just as
poignant in the interpretation. Touching.
"Of course I led into "Ghost Music" with "Violets of Dawn"!
He's simply one of the finest singer-songwriter-musicians, walking this planet today.
His music is exciting, mystical, haunting, impassioned, subliminal. This has to be one of
the best independent albums to come out this year. Having never been previously introduced
to Tom's music, I have now become a convert. I have missed this kind of sound for quite
some time. It seemed to have faded with the Simon and Garfunkel era.......that
well-produced sound with intelligent lyrics can be found with this project. If you love
music for the quality of the sound and the depth of the songwriting, this is the album to
have. ( Independent Songwriter Web-Magazine)
Simply terrific new CD. I love the title song, too. And your tracks with Joyce are very appealing. "Fab!" --- Marilyn Rae Beyer WUMB Boston MA
The latest chapter in the long musical saga of Devonsquare was the recent release of
Tom Dean's solo album, "Your Own Backyard."
Dean, singer and guitarist for Devonsquare, pulls together a fine collection of
musicians and a reasonably fine collection of tunes to create a strong, 10-song album that
shows us a side of his talent that isn't always evident in his work with D'square.
For starters, Dean went out and rounded up musicians who've worked with some of the
best singer-songwriters of the '80s and '90s. Among the musicians on the album are drummer
Shawn Pelton (Shawn Colvin), bassist Michael Visceglia and guitarist Marc Shulman (Suzanne
Vega), and guitarist Jeff Pevar (Rickie Lee Jones). The result is a buttery smooth
instrumental mix that hovers around Dean's voice and never insists on getting in the way
of his lyrics.
Dean's songs and arrangements are similarly buttery, but a rootsy flavor keeps the best
of them from merely melting in your ears. The opening "On the Road" has a
driving country feel, while the lyrics share Devonsquare's fascination with Beat writer
subjects without lapsing into D'square's hipster pretensions. "Drive On"
approaches the tautness of a Fred Eaglesmith tune, while the humorous "My Little
Wildcat" exhibits great restraint with a minimalist rock arrangement.
Overall this is a strong album by a seasoned songwriter. -- By Scott Sutherland - Portland Press Herald)
Like jazz of the 50s and 60s, the New
England folk scene sometimes seems to consist of such a tight-knit group
of players that it’s tough to tell whose song it is you’re listening to.
On any given new album, particularly in New Hampshire/Maine Tom Dean,
Joyce Andersen, Tom Yoder and Don Campbell (to name the most proficient)
show up all over each other’s CDs. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, on
Dean’s latest release, the excellent Pennies, the presence of such folk
royalty is enough to lift the album beyond your standard folk fare.
Let’s be clear. There is no
middle-of-the-road folk. There’s Bob Dylan and then there’s bland. But
throughout his career, even without the help of Andersen, etc., Dean has
rarely fallen into that trap. Dylan, and Dean, understand that the stories
in their songs aren’t about the singer. Sure, in many of the 10 songs on
Pennies Dean is a character, but the message is more complex, more
universal. Another guy with a guitar singing about a broken heart we don’t
need. But in “The Streets of Montreal,” when Dean sings about returning to
that city to walk in the shadow of an old, long-gone lover, the song isn’t
about self-pity, it’s about a guy who lost it and understands it’s never
coming back. “We’re made to think there’s always something else that we
can try,” Dean sings behind the sad soprano sax of Charlie Jennison. “The
things we do don’t change a thing, and this is the reason why I’m seeking
Later, in one of the strongest songs on the
album, Dean is joined by Andersen on “Escape and On You Go.” In
back-and-forth vocals, they tell the story of a woman beaten by her man
and a man nearly escaping death on the highway. Are they the people each
of them sings about? The song never tells. But each of them deals with
loneliness and the inability to change their life through denial as an
escape. Hardly typical singer/songwriter fare
Dean and his songwriting partner George
Wardwell have created a mature, and occasionally dark little album about
aging and the consequences of having regrets. Dean’s voice is light and
mellow, as always, but Pennies has a strength under the surface that gives
Dean’s gentle voice urgency, and makes the album a stand-out.--- Dan J. Szczesny - Hippo Press