Review: Paul Thorn – ‘Too Blessed To Be Stressed’

This review was written by “Johnny Full-Time John Luttrell, and it originally appeared in the Kentuckiana Blues Society newsletter, February 2015.

Courtesy Perpetual Obscurity

On Paul Thorn’s last album, 2012’s What The Hell Is Going On, he dealt with some heavy topics on the title cut. For this new release, Too Blessed To Be Stressed, Paul embraces the positivity found in the title track. The disc opens with “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” and your toes are instantly tapping. Paul’s cinematic lyrics play through your mind on “Too Blessed to Be Stressed,” as Thorn provides slice of life glimpses into several different American experiences. He hits the warm and fuzzy trifecta with “Everybody Needs Somebody,” singing “…when you make a friend, that’s when everybody wins. A little love can put a smile on your face.” It was at this point in the CD that my wife asked what we were listening to, “I really like this,” she added.

Paul Thorn has always written the truth into his lyrics, whether it’s the honesty of the male figures he grew up watching in a song like 2010’s “Pimps and Preachers,” or the social commentary of American culture in this record’s “Mediocrity Is King.” So, you can believe him when he sings about his continued attempts to “be a good man” in the track “I Backslide On Friday.” It’s important to note the impact of Paul’s songwriting partner, Billy Maddox, who shares credit on all of these songs with Paul, save for one. “Get You A Healin’” was written by Carlo J Ditta.

It’s the songwriting that sets Paul Thorn apart from everybody else. Sure, the arrangements are fantastic, and the playing is top notch; but personally, I come to every new Paul Thorn record with excitement about the words in these songs. Let’s not gloss over the band, though. Give a call to Bill Hinds (guitar, harmonies), Jefferey Perkins (drums), Ralph Friedrichsen (bass, harmonies, co-writing credit on “Everybody Needs Somebody”), and Michael Graham (keys) for the work they did on this album. Paul also renews his relationship with the incredible McCrary Sisters, who provide backing vocals on three tracks. The liner notes include this fun fact: the McCrary Sisters were recorded for this album at sea during the Sandy Beaches Cruise.

The Blues has always been about heartache and pain; but they’ve also been about joy and celebration. With that in mind, Paul Thorn’s album Too Blessed To Be Stressed is worth your time for the 43 minutes of sonic joy that you’ll get listening.

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