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Tom MacLear -- Gods and Ghosts    (click on image to watch video)

 21 February 2019

 

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A Brit by birth, but fully immersed in Americana, Tom MacLear has built a career by placing himself behind the scenes. He’s written successful songs for others and has frequently been found sitting behind the boards, contributing his talents to other artists who climbed the charts by effectively making use of his experience and expertise. Not that he was bereft of star credits entirely; touring stints with Emmylou Harris, the Burrito Brothers and the Dirt Band brought him to center stage even as he was content to be overshadowed by others.

On his excellent new album Gods and Ghosts, MacLear offers compelling reasons why he ought to be considered more of the former and less of the latter. He’s had hits in the past -- and indeed he’s reaped rewards from several sources that readily acknowledge his abilities -- but with this effort under his own aegis, he demonstrates the reasons why his music has always been considered so fully radio ready. The celebratory stance of “That Wonderful Love,” “Movin’ Back To Texas,” “One More Rodeo” and “Purple Sky” becomes so upbeat and infectious, it allows the songs to grab hold immediately, suggesting they possess those qualities needed to garner airplay all on their own.

Still, MacLear is capable of more than merely crafting a ready refrain. The compelling title track and the thoughtful ballads that follow, “Dreams of Her” and “The Harder It Falls” in particular, reflect the fact that he’s an insightful individual. It ought to come as little surprise that he’s versatile and prolific as well. He’s earned a respectable reputation as an actor and an artist in addition to his credits as a multi-instrumental musician, one who’s equally adept on slide and bottleneck guitars, dobro, mandolin, banjo and bass.

Ultimately then, MacLear demonstrates a natural affinity for a crowd-pleasing sound that all but assures an instant embrace. On “County Prison Blues” he declares, “I’ve got nothing to lose but my pain,” To the contrary, with Gods & Ghosts, he proves he has everything to gain. 

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

 

 

 


 

 

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