Just a few years back, Tom “The Suit” Forst put the tools of his old trade down and turned towards his passion fulltime. Tom quit his executive job as Vice President of Cox Communications Group at 57 years old after he had paid the last college tuition bill for his four children. He picked up his electric six-string and started making waves as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter – performing and recording with well-known musicians from The Johnny Winter Band, Saturday Night Live, Allman Brothers Band, Paul Nelson Band, Stephen Colbert Show Band, Popa Chubby plus Grammy winning musicians and producers.
As a performer, Tom “The Suit” Forst has also opened for: Hoobastank, Marshall Tucker Band, Lucas Nelson, Atlanta Rhythm Section, 3 Dog Night, Gideon Luke, and Grand Funk. 2016 sees the release of Tom’s debut solo album, “On Fire”. Strong from the beginning to the end, the tracks are filled with energy and the enthusiasm of musicians who love what they are doing. Tom The Suit Forst is probably the best musician you have never heard because he doesn’t get played on radio, yet. He didn’t sell out to the record companies and become pop star, because he has had much better things to do in the meantime, and he has probably also stayed true to his musical roots – which is blues-based rock.
Listening to “On Fire” is like drinking a finely aged wine. No wasted notes here, just pure blues-rock grit. Too many guitarists get hung up on how many notes can be crammed into a measure. But Tom knows the value of the spaces between and the length of the notes that makes his music so good. This album is a work of sublime beauty. It is a gutsy, gritty album that shows the guitarist in rare form.
Opening with the brilliantly groovy “The Wolf’s At The Door”, Tom’s tone hits you squarely between the eyes. This is no exercise in late night nostalgia, this is an album of blistering solos, vibrant rhythms and taut bass lines and remarkable banging drums. Tom’s in fine voice on “Play Like The King”, coming across as a mix of Billy Squier, Joe Walsh and Peter Frampton. And on the smoky layered harmonics of “Going Home”, which veers between a relaxed acoustic blues soundscape and soaring rock vocals, it often feels as if Tom’s playing in your living room, thanks to the crystal clear production.
Tom “The Suit” Forst’s secret is that his playing, never flashy, is directly from the heart. This is a musician; an artist; who plays for the sheer love of it, and that love is communicated through his stunning guitar work. “Still Was Right” has a springy, funky tone that sounds like the work of a young man with the world, and his career, still out ahead of him. The cocky confidence, the insistent beat, it all comes together with a vitality that can only come from a deep love of playing and it is inspiring just to listen to it.
Perfect to be played late at night, “Still On The Run” is a mid-tempo soulful, smoky jam that adopts the atmosphere of a blues club and imbues itself with a darker, rougher and raw edge. In contrast, “Unfaithfully Yours” is a brighter piece, and has a funky, big band feel to it with sparkling piano and chunky guitar riffs providing the perfect backing for Tom’s rich, warm vocals.
The swinging cover of Joe Walsh’s “Walk Away”, is a track guaranteed to get the dance floor moving. “Killing Floor” is raucous rock n’ roll played straight, with a shot of whiskey and a battered guitar. “Consolation Man” is traditional and beautiful in equal measure with its gritty guitar work and shuffling tempo redolent with a swampy atmosphere. The album ends with another classic “I heard it Through The Grapevine”, a groovy closer with wonderful saxophone work, and that legendary melody to die for.
You can’t keep a good guitarist down for long, so eventually Tom “The Suit” Forst has come to the fore. Spend an hour in the company of this album and you’re likely to be hooked for a year, spend a day in its company and it may well become one of your favorite modern day blues-rock albums yet. Tom “The Suit” Forst’s strength is his ability to take traditional blues forms and bend them to his will, filling them out with his endlessly graceful and fiery guitar work.
As stated above Tom’s work is never flashy, rather he imbues each rhythm, riff or solo with an element of soul which, no matter how proficient the guitarist, can never be learned and can never be faked. The album, “On Fire”, is delightfully uncluttered and solidly produced by Grammy Award-winner Paul Nelson, side-man guitarist for the late Johnny Winter. Meaning that, for the most part, it feels as if Tom “The Suit” Forst is playing right there in your living room, and the end result is an album which plays directly to the heart.