‘Scribe and Jester’ from Tom Hitt(February 18, 2012)
“Are all those mood changes on the same album?” I was asked that question more than once when listening to ‘Scribe and Jester’ from Tom Hitt, a man that approaches his idiosyncratic take on diverse musical meanderings with enthusiastic, versatile passion. Songwriters rarely span a range of styles and moods with equal dexterity and success – this one does. From the layered harmonies and quasi-psychedelic, folk rock echoes of ‘Just Bend’ through the nostalgic pop-influenced love song ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ to the acidly observed, reminiscent humour of ‘The Southern Saying Song’ – Tom explores a range of moods and style-changes to deliver a roundly encompassing journey through his view of American folk.
In Tom’s world, traditional folk happily joins hands with folk rock, pulsating pop, love songs and witty observations. It’s a mix that works its magic on so many levels. Overtures of West Coast Americana rock, waltz-tempo pop and acoustic alt-folk narrative - each song, serious or witty, precisely crafted, with acutely observed lyrical explorations – just listen to ‘We Could Never Be That Way’ and ‘In The Biblical Sense’. His lithe lyrics are much like his instrumental eclecticism, where single guitars sit comfortably with melodicas, glockenspiel and mandolin; and of course the rather more out-of-the-ordinary instrumentation offered by bulbul tarang (the so-called Indian banjo) and doumbeck drum.
On ‘Scribe and Jester’, Tom is joined by Davy Sturtevant on guitars. There's also the previously observed host of sound producing instruments, sound-bites and devices including glockenspiel, doumbeck, melodica, guitars, bulbul tarang, ukele, mandolin, drumset, human voice, wild birds, bongos, stirring drum, bass guitar, cowbell, jingle stick, payphone bells, Casio SA-76 and Roland guitar synth – I’m pretty sure there could be a kitchen sink in there too.
You can find the album, complete with its outstanding pen-and-ink artwork by Bryan Toy, on www.reverbnation.com/tomhitt
Reviewer: Tom Franks