Tom Gabel has made his fame as the voice behind americana-punks, Against Me; this time he decides to step outside his typical arena for a solo affair. His stellar performance at Fun Fun Fun Fest this year with the Revival Tour led us to check out his latest solo release.
“I Can’t See You, But I Know You’re There” opens the album, and it’s a pleasant enough song. The straining vocals known with Against Me fans is still pretty evident,and the entire song revolves around loose acoustic guitar, with the focus resonating with the lyrics, which appear to discuss the loss of a dear friend.
He follows this up with “Anna is a Stool Pigeon.” This is the acoustic guitar work that one would expect from Tom, and its definitely more reminiscent of his performance at Fun x 3. It’s got some harmonica accompaniment, and overall it’s taking a more country approach, though the lyrical content is a little bit lacking. He continues in this vain for the most part, though there is a misstep in the middle.
“Random Hearts” is a song that recalls the most recent effort of his main band, New Wave. It’s electric guitar work and percussion samples don’t come across with the usual sincerity that is associated with a Tom Gabel song. Sure, the album offers you an acoustic version, but the version here definitely sticks with you; the case is the same with a song like “Amputations,” where the electric guitar just doesn’t seem to benefit his style at all, although the lyrical content here is definitely one younger crowds could get behind.
That being said, the album does have one of the better songs he’s written, “Conceptual Paths.” Sure, there are some minor drum samples in the background, but the strumming of his acoustic guitar recalls those special moments he is capable of creating. It’s easily the strongest song on the record.
All in all this is a decent offering from one of punk’s great voices. It would be nice to seem take a few more leaps towards a direct country approach, but that’s probably just wishful thinking. One can’t be too disappointed to have this set of songs to add to their collection.
Download: Tom Gabel – Conceptual Paths [MP3]