October 8, 2004

Review: Tom Baxter's Feather & Stone

I woke up at 5am and my blankets were up near my head, not just covering my head, but all pulled up, so my feet were exposed. ?! What happened? So at 5am I was awake and playing this Tom Baxter record one more time. If Jeff Buckley (JB) were alive today, I am not sure Tom Baxter (TB) would have been signed; he is the most Buckley-esque of all the post-Memphis-drowning clones and I will cast this review of Feather & Stone against JB. It can't be avoided.

Usually the vocal link to JB is a white boy who would sound comfortable singing Nina Simone, soulful on the low notes, but with an angelic range. In this case, it's not so much high notes as a certain tightness and gurgle in his voice that is pure JB. The lyrics and arrangements veer closer to Shawn Colvin or David Gray. Sweet songs like This Boy, The Moon & Me and All Comes True are jaunty and memorable, if a bit lacking in originality.

Don't Let Go, however, is off-putting in its JB wantonness, but the urgent piano arrangement is the saving grace (pun intended). The final ballad, Scorpio Boy, loses me with this hammy whispered opening line: "When I was young, my mama told me.."

Let me congratulate Baxter and his peoples for putting out a debut album with ten songs. Thank you! This record is consistent enough and brief enough that I am able to understand who he is, or is not, as it were. The 15-song CD is a peeve I lament over again and again on this blog. Feather & Stone isn't too much to absorb. This one is a UK only release, but you can get it for a better price on Amazon Marketplace (US).

Tom Baxter Song Sampler

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