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Tom Heinl
With Or Without Me
Leisure King Records
www.tomheinl.com


Lately everything with cool graphics and promisingly funny song titles has burned me both ways like bad chorizo. Be assured that With Or Without Me delivers far more hilarity and style than required by law. A lot of Toms are represented on this album, and we're not talking drums. Although the cover looks like a classic Tom Jones, the songs are more tributes to Toms- T. Hall & Waits. If he'da rolled the Toms together, he'd end up with Jerry Jeff Walker. And if you rolled up Homer and Jethro, I guess you'd get Tom Heinl.

Twangless Tom Heinl has a fantastic baritone to bass range, and the arrangements are impeccable 60's Country that would make Conway Twitty jealous. The steel guitar is authentic, the tinkling piano echoes Floyd Kramer and the flourishes are completely accurate. But all that is merely a setup for the astoundingly brilliant, straight-faced sketches like "Three-Way," whose moral is "be careful what you wish for." Or maybe the moral is "be specific." But probably it's just a bunch of stuff that happened. "Pinto Squire" is a clever barrelhouse take on automotive odes featuring swinging Hammond organ. While "Trailer Fever" replaces the malady of the cabin sort.

"IHOP" is a flattering reaction to Tom Waits' "Ghosts Of Saturday Night." But with talk of "Blue booths like a bread crumb trail to the can/and I stick my head in the toilet and yak," this'll nary become the next Waffle House Jukebox Favorite. If it weren't for the vulgar subject, the scratchy "Peeing In An Empty" could easily be vintage Tex Ritter Grand Ol' Opry material. As if the Tom T. Hall connection weren't already apparent, Heinl's finest piece is a twisted version of "I Love." It's difficult to pick out a favorite line in this song, let alone the album, but try out,"I love chickens without heads/the smell of old sheds/sleeping in class/and ass/I love mailmen when they're mad/nuns when they're bad/hippies when they're cops/and rolling stops." Sadly, there's not the room to cover references to Haley Mills and Lincoln Logs, so don't ask.

-Ewan Wadharmi

Track List:

1. Mama
2. Pinto Suire
3. Trailer Fever
4. Three-Way
5. Peein' In An Empty
6. IHOP
7. Christmas Tree on Fire
8. Half Day Vacation
9. Turned A Corner
10. I Love

All tracks repeat sans vocals for Stereoke



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