ReviewsTwangin'!

Tom T. Hall

Home Grown
Mercury 314-536 316-2

Tom T. Hall (vocals); Tom Roady (various percussion instruments); Jim Ferguson (bass, harmony vocals); Jeff Gilkinson (cello, banjo, harmonica); Bobby All (acoustic guitar); Robert Bowlin (fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar); Tommy White (slide dobro, slide guitar); Viktor Krauss (bass on Bill Monroe for Breakfast

Bill Monroe for Breakfast / The Beautiful River of Life / Legend of the Lady Bear / Royal Annie / Waiting on the Other Shoe to Fall / Local Flowers / Watertown, Tennessee / The Way I've Always Been / Life Don't Have to Mean Nothing at All / Back When the Old Homeplace Was New / What a Song

Tom T. Hall is like an old dog or comfortable pair of boots. It just makes you feel good to be in his presence; a poet who happens to set his poems to music. Home Grown is the latest slice of Tom's life. This is Tom T. Hall's Radio Hostile CD. It's not that he is intentionally radio hostile, It's just that he is a little bit older and doesn't wear a Cowboy Hat. You don't line dance to a Tom T. Hall record. You fill a glass with your favorite amber beverage, whether it be Sour Mash, or Iced Tea, and you sit back and listen and look into a slice of his soul.

Tom T. Hall is a legend. He has won a Grammy, had seven Number One records, 28 records in the Top 10. He's a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and his songs have been recorded by Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jeannie C. Riley and others. He has acted on TV and is working on a book. And he finally received his first gold record for sales of over 500,000 copies of his Greatest Hits Volume II. And he still has a major label deal with Mercury Records. Not bad for a guy who Country Radio won't touch.

Tom T. told the folks at Mercury that he wanted to make a record, and he wanted to do it his way. They gave him complete control. He wrote the songs, picked the studio, hired the musicians, and did all the producing and arranging. He even did the artwork and grew the vegetables and painted the sign that sits in his garden pictured on the cover.

This is an acoustic album with about half of it having a Bluegrass feel. Tom T. Hall is no bluegrass novice. Before setting off in a career as a songwriter he was a disc jockey and a bass player in a bluegrass band. His album The Incredible Music Machine featured Bill Monroe's first guest appearance on any album. He also recorded an excellent bluegrass album with Earl Scruggs titled the Banjoman and the Storyteller. Bobby Thompson's banjo work was an integral part of the classic Tom T. Hall sound. Tom T. hall has Bluegrass in his soul.

The title track came about as a result of a past tour of Australia. Tom T. was eating breakfast while talking with a waiter about a Frank Sinatra song being played over the restaurant radio. "Did you hear much Sinatra while you were growing up?" asked the waiter. "Not really," replied Tom T., "When I was a boy we'd have Bill Monroe for Breakfast." Written prior to Mr. Monroe's death, it kicks this album off in fine style.

Tom T. tells stories set to music. "Bill Monroe" for Breakfast tells of a simpler time , listening to Bill Monroe in the morning, working in the fields all day, and the desire to return to the old home and it's simple ways. "Royal Annie" tells you that the local bag lady and all her outrageous stories may be just who she says she is and the stories might be true. "Local Flowers" tells us it's the sentiments that count -- There is more feeling in a bunch of handpicked daisies that in a $100 bouquet of roses.

"Watertown, Tennessee" glorifies small town life. "The Way I've Always Been" is classic Tom T., a song about life after a woman leaves. "I'm just the way I've always been, I love you now and I loved you then. Same old thoughts and same old friends, I'm just the way I've always been." "Life Don't Have to Mean Nothing at All," will end up being covered by somebody in Nashville who will make a ton of money on it. A catchy tune with a great hook that tells us all how to be successful and make 47 million dollars a year. Life is for living and don't necessarily have to mean anything at all.

It's a sin that music this good doesn't get played on country radio. The buegrass radio people have embraced it and that is a good thing. Alan Jackson and others have taken Tom T.'s songs to Number One, and the Tom T. songbook is a guaranteed money maker for Nashville. But nothing takes the place of hearing Tom T. sing them. Pick up this CD. Turn off the telephone. Sit down in your favorite chair with your dog at your side and relax with Tom T. You'll enjoy it and your dog will too.

--Jeff Wall




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