1 January 2018
Thomas Truax - All That Heaven Allows
With 2017 now in the history books, it’s time to start to look at new albums for 2018. When I was offered the chance to review the latest album from Sir Thomas of Truax, I jumped at the chance. If you're familiar with this blog, then you should be aware of the previous reviews of the last few albums by Sir TT (if not, here is a link to those reviews). I've waxed lyrical about his live shows, I've wittered on about his bizarre and wondrous approach to instruments and how he can make any room seem like a theatre of enchantment. And whilst those live performances continue to be breath-taking, the studio input has not always recreated the same level of magic. I'm not saying his studio work is poor, but those live shows take some beating. But recently, Sir TT has been focusing a lot on his studio work, especially with the Full Moon Music Club. If you join this service via his Bandcamp page, you will get instant access to all new music upon its release. It's a fantastic little service, something that is a must for all fans of those Wowtown newsletters. I also love the title of this record, it speaks of mystery, love and a little bit of the macabre. But how has All That Heaven Allows turn out, we need to find out, speaking of which......
01 - Swimming Back to Wowtown
We return once more to that mythical place, that port with Sir TT calls home and the macabre citizens are calling from over the waves. It’s a beautiful number with its pounding drums, strange horns, slow rhythm and abstract lyrics, “Swimming Back to Wowtown” is the best start to a Sir TT album since “Why Do Dogs Howl at The Moon Part 1”. It has those bizarre moments that make Sir Thomas stand out from the crowd, it’s a bizarre and beautiful creature, one that sinks its hooks into you straight away.
02 - Save Me (featuring Gemma Ray)
Featuring singer/songwriter Gemma Ray, “Save Me” is a song about two people that are trying to save themselves by investing in each other. This could be a dangerous situation to be honest, at least for the two would be lovers. Musically though, this is a dangerous mix that is made in heaven, with a potent mixture of classic 60’s noise, those wonderful barbed lyrics of Sir TT and that hypnotic combination of vocals of Gemma Ray. I would love to hear a full Ray/Truax album, it could be a world beater. But "Save Me" is a fantastic number in its own right as well.
03 - Humane Train
“Humane Train” is a song which has already been performed live, and it has a live appeal in its studio form as well. At the core of the song is a desire to get people to just be nice to each other, treat others as you would like to be treated and to not be a git. The backing vocals for the song are beautiful, it gives this song a slice of glamour and style, but all with that trademarked Truax charm. What a wonderful little number.
04 - Precarious Waltz
Now, this is what I’ve come to expect from Sir Thomas, a bizarre and wondrous number which sounds unlike anything else you would have heard before. The story of the song is about a cat that has been chased by a fox up a tree, who is saved by Sir Thomas and his friend. It’s not a strange as other TT numbers, but with its waltz time signature and style, it sounds like it’s about to fall over at any given moment, but it always comes back together. I like this one a lot, I like that it sounds fractured, that it has a bizarre heartbeat and a strange tale, that probably says more about me than anything else.
05 - Little Bites (Granny Says Part 2)
With mournful guitars, large sections where the guitar is the only sound and a Spaghetti-Western meets David Bowie Labyrinth-era sound, “Little Bites (Granny Says Part 2)” is a song that comes with a warning, take your time and rewards will come. It’s a slow song, it takes a while to get into the swing of things, but it’s worth the effort as it has a certain something about it. I love the style, I love the tone and it gets better with each spin of the album.
06 - International Homeland Security
“International Homeland Security” is a full band song, with a decent riff and some good lyrics. Out of all the songs on this album, it’s the only one that I’ve not really warmed to if I’m honest. That is not to say it’s a bad number, but it doesn’t have that instant appeal that other tracks on this record possess. So, onto the next one…...
07 - Tonight We're Gonna Fly
“Tonight We’re Gonna Fly” is another song that contains the traditional Truax sound, the hornicator is heavily used on this track, which means it will be easily translated to his fantastic live shows. It feels like a Lynch-directed version of his song “Post Post Post Modern” from Sonic Dreamer, with so many strange and wondrous hooks that it sinks into your subconscious, with the ease of a thief in the night.
08 - Save Me (Reprise) (Featuring Gemma Ray)
“Save Me (Reprise)” returns to the sound of the original song, but in this one, it’s asking for everyone to be saved. I love this return to "Save Me", it’s short and sweet as a reprise should be. Not much more to say on this one, so onwards to the next track.
09 - Your Ever Changing Face/All That Heaven Allows
If I wanted a perfect example to showcase all facets of Sir Thomas, I cannot think of a better song than “Your Ever Changing Face/All That Heaven Allows”. It covers everything – that bizarre time signature, the fan on the guitar, the changing tempo that shifts like sand under your feet, moving from a Twin Peaks/Zappa hippy trip to a slow and macabre sound, the whole package is here for all to see! It’s a great song, not my overall favourite of the album, but still one of the standout moments on this record.
10 - The Mobile Starts to Spin
“The Mobile Starts to Spin” bring proceedings to an end on All That Heaven Allows, with a mournful sound that would not be out of place at the end of some art-house movie. With sparse piano, gentle strings and a repetitive guitar pattern, this is a path back to reality after a trip to Wowtown, a way to let the real world back in as you come back from that alternative version of Oz. It’s a beautiful, fragile ending to this album.
I think Sir Thomas might have nailed it here, and I don’t say that lightly. Each track on All That Heaven Allows could easily be transferred into his live set, some of them already have and they sound brilliant in studio form. Each time I have spun this record, my love for this album has grown and it’s never lost my attention. Are there any issues? Well, apart from one song which does not quite cut the mustard for me, it’s the best work that Sir Thomas has released (I’m still upset he’s not got his real knighthood!!!). I would recommend going to his live shows, purchasing this album and immersing yourself in the strange and wonderful world of Wowtown, you may never want to leave….. Also, once it has been released (and Sir TT has revealed his artwork), I will update all the links and the cover photo of this album.
9 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost…...
Top track – Tonight, We’re Gonna Fly
You can pre-order All That Heaven Allows from the Thomas Truax Bandcamp page here, as well as join the Full Moon Music Club
You can visit the Thomas Truax website here.
You can follow the activities of Thomas Truax on Facebook here.
At the time of writing, All That Heaven Allows is not available on streaming sites.
All That Heaven Allows is due to be released on 19th January 2018.
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