Tom Dean Reviews  
    independent songwriter MagazineThe 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 production.

"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'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.

The Summary
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)

wumb"Of course I led into "Ghost Music" with "Violets of Dawn"!
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



logoThe 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) 

hippo 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 absolution.”

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

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