The opening, title, track stops and starts you in your tracks. Tommy Hale, from Dallas, sings, “It seems I’ve let time slip away. It goes over the hill like a wild dog.” Here is the celebration, a eulogy of misspent youth. And so the album advances, with a wider, and varied list of themes and stories. Recorded in Wiltshire, maybe initially for a UK audience and so, perhaps, the record needs a proper introduction: “Magnificent Bastard” in American English is someone who is intelligent, capable, supremely competent, and always in control; the sort of person who gains grudging admiration, from friend and foe alike.
Superb title for a superb album. And the fact that the musicians involved with Tommy Hale come from two of the UK’s most interesting Americana bands: The Snakes and The Redlands Palamino Co. In fact, The Snakes guitarist, Simon George Moor produced the thing cleverly, with taste and skill as well as providing powerful guitar himself.
There are several reasons for such accolades: Tommy’s voice is remarkable for its variety: rocking, forceful (title track and Backburner), Mournful (Hope She’ll Be Happier), Soft and gentle (Homecoming Mum), deep, questioning and moving (“Save Me”) and ultimately outstanding. He’s written al the songs, except the last track where he even outdoes Bill Withers!
This is an album to live with and enjoy. It has taken me two weeks to take in all that is happening here. The more you listen, the more fundamental it becomes.