"Tom Dean is a New Hampshire
singer-songwriter, and though he's a 25+ year veteran of local folk/rock
heroes Devonsquare, these days his solo career has been in the spotlight.
On his latest CD, Pennies, Dean serves up ten strong, original songs
co-written with friend/lyricist George Wardwell. Wardwell also contributed
lyrics to Dean's 1999 release, Your Own Backyard (reviewed right here on
Indie-Music.com), and is in fine form this time around. The lyrics are
cleverly crafted stories set to Dean's memorable melodies, most of which
fall into the "modern folk" or singer-songwriter genre. There are a couple of surprises
however, like Dean's wailing harmonica on the bluesy title track and the
surprisingly traditional violin on "That Girl is the Moon".
The single most impressive thing about this album (among many) is the
consistent strength of the songwriting. There's not a weak tune in the
Dean himself plays guitar, harmonica, and keyboards, and is joined on the
album by well-known players Shawn Pelton, drums (Shawn Colvin), Kevin
Barry, guitar (Paula Cole), Michael Visceglia, bass (Suzanne Vega), Tom
Yoder, fiddle & mandolin, Joyce Anderson, violin & backing vocals, and Don
Campbell, banjo & vocals
I just love this guy's voice. He's been compared by other reviewers to
Phil Collins, Don Henley, and James Taylor. I also hear traces of Paul
Simon's genius on "Run Down Slow" and "The Streets of Montreal". --- By Suzanne Glass - Indie-Music.com
Tom Dean has finally released a solo album. And it lives up to expectations.
Devonsquare is a tough act to follow. What Dean has done with Your Own Backyard is make a solid, tuneful folk-pop album
with catchy hooks, soulful vocals, and finger-snapping, foot-tapping songs.
The creme de la creme are "Walking On Ice", "The Devil And Robert
Johnson", "On The Road" and "After Midnight". What keeps Dean at
the top of his form is the masterful assistance of lyricist George Wardwell and producer
Dean's emotion and passion is evident with both the melody and his voice. And the
folk-pop tag is perfect for someone who sounds equal parts Phil Collins and James Taylor.
Jeff Pevar's electric guitar and Dean's vocal inflections make "Love Is Always
Gonna Look Just Like You" sound like a tune that the Eagles could have done with Don
Henley at the helm. A love song, hint of twang, slow and catchy.
"The Devil And Robert Johnson" is my favorite of this disc. There is a bit
of blues wrapped up in this tune, but that's not what makes it soar. The conviction in
Dean's voice an tempo provided by the rhythm section Shawn Pelton peltin' the skins and
Michael Visceglia on bass really stand out. The story, a twist on the Crossroads legend is
.."After Midnight" is not a cover. Dean penned this one entirely himself and
it comes through well. The well-traveled Dean laments of days away from home and longing
..Now that Dean has done the album he's been expected to do, how will he top this?
Bill Huffman - Jam Magazine
"Pennies" is the second solo effort of North Conway’s Tom
Dean, of the long-running supergroup Devonsquare. "Classy"
readily comes to mind to describe a superb 40 minutes of sound. "Splendid"
also rattles around in that vast vacuum serving as the music reviewer’s
stand-in for gray matter.
First-rate music, pithy lyrics and talented performers all bear up well
under repeated aural scrutiny. In truth, most of the song lyrics, eight
collaborations with George Wardwell and two lonely star turns from Dean,
improve with contemplation.
Dean and Wardwell milk life’s experiences and the cream
rises to the top. Deep thoughts are cleanly rendered and speak to
everyman. Even songs about that road more traveled, love, sound original,
The "Pennies" band usually sports Dean on vocals, acoustic, bass, slide
and electric guitars, keyboards, tambourine, harmonica, and/or snare drum,
Shawn Pelton on drums, Michael Visceglia on bass guitar, and Kevin Barry
on electric guitars. Other contributors include Don Campbell on background
vocals and banjo, Tom Yoder on mandolin and violin, Charlie Jennison on
soprano sax, and Joyce Andersen on violin and background and additional
"Pennies" is prima facie evidence why one of New England’s finest
singer-songwriters, and a gifted vocalist and multi-instrumentalist to
boot, is also in constant demand as a producer. If you like contemporary
folk, "Pennies" will sound heavenly.
--- By Chuck Ginsberg Portsmouth
Herald / seacoastonline.com