Thomas’ work displays a keen awareness of Americana, with an underpinning of blues-rock structures that make his music both retro and contemporary. On the 6-track “Boogie Woogie Baby,” Thomas seems to be unconcerned with pop, instead relying on his own instincts to provide the sonic palette. The result is an EP unlike any other that I have heard. Each song on this collection plays like an aural depiction of a subconscious thought, structured to follow the whimsical paranoia of Thomas’ inner voice. “My Mouth Hurts”, “Nihilistic Blue,” “Fading Black,” and almost every other track here has a sense of underlying menace that is offset by a nearly playful lyricism. “Charlotte’s First” with inclusion of a 14-month old baby’s voice edited into the song, is flat-out absurd, you may think.
But Thomas pushes the limits of experimentation and therefore shares a place with a handful of artists who have strong and devoted followings, but whose music is perhaps too thoughtful to sell huge quantities or capture mass attention. Not easily accessible – “Boogie Woogie Baby,” is not lighthearted easy listening – baby vocals and all things considered. It takes a bit getting used to. On first listen it seems that, Thomas’ quirky production sometimes gets in the way of his songs. However, I admired what he is attempting to do so much; I made myself keep listening to it because I really wanted to hear what he had to say.
Slowly but surely I began to tune into the lyrics, the jamband-like fervor and energy embedded in the heart of every song, the crunchy guitar work and the overall sense of artistic purpose in the music. This is the soundtrack to the infancy of Charlotte, and a howling yelp of artistic angst from Thomas thrown in as well. Crank this up LOUD. “Boogie Woogie Baby,” speaks volumes to our musical world today with Thomas’ ground breaking re-direction of American Roots Rock – No doubt it is an acquired taste and requires a listener’s ear, a poet’s heart, and a sub-level of frustration to listen to this adequately–don’t expect to charmed or mollified, but do expect to be moved. Thomas gives life to the old bumper sticker, ‘If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.’ These songs are full of sharp insight and thoughtful observation, delivered with pathos and wit.
I would suspect that the absence of mass appeal stems from the lack of tidiness that a work so broadly challenging represents. There is no greater sin within an industry so rigidly boxed by format and genre than to have an artist offering no boundaries or convention beyond the goal of personal artistic expression. What does this mean for the listener? It means that Thomas gets the details down perfectly of what his doing. Listen to the music. Is it strange? Yes, at times. But it is exactly what Thomas intended. There are no mistakes, just off the cuff creativity of a free mind and spirit!