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ALBUM REVIEW

Thomas Michael Riley
TOMMY
©2009 Independently released
Review by Lucky Boyd
Co-founder, MyTexasMusic.com

It’s rare, but occasionally, a particular sound can be attributed to a geographical region.  In Texas, there’s a Hill Country sound that becomes recognizable as you approach that part of the state.  Even more specifically, there’s a common set of characteristics in the music made by a group of artists from the Marble Falls area.  Some great music has come from that area; names like Mike Blakely, John Arthur Martinez, Larry Nye, The Dust Devils, John Greenberg, and Jeff Posey, come to mind.  Each of these artists, while not necessarily from the area, have spent a great deal of time there and are influenced by the other artists on that list.  Enter Thomas Michael Riley.  Riley is certainly on this list of artists who present the Marble Falls musical characteristics.  Though none of the artists are ‘sound-a-likes,’ they all do tend to write about life in a pure form that helps listeners relate on a very basic level.  Riley’s writing is true to that form.  Each song is relatable for the listener and is delivered in a clear, crisp, and highly entertaining way.  Riley’s voice is deep, warm, and comforting, embracing listeners with a sense of empathy that makes an unbreakable connection.  In researching Riley’s career, one thing is certain; his fans are loyal and plentiful.  TOMMY is the latest from Riley, who has already released a half-dozen albums and has plans for more.  The latest disc is a little different from the rest.  It has a little more spit-shine, and while not a totally Nashville-slick project, it does have a few of the musical bells and whistles that come with recording in Tennessee.  Riley has penned the full lot of this ten-cut gem, showing that he’s capable of delivering on all fronts.  Excellent vocal work, outstanding arrangements and performances, coupled with masterful writing make TOMMY the best of Riley to date.  Song subjects range from the spectacular to the spiritual, from the cryptic to the charismatic.  Riley’s “In The Garden” hits on the subject of a young man going off to war.  What’s different about this track from so many other songs that attempt to tear at you emotionally, Riley’s hero actually comes home without getting killed, maimed, or paralyzed.  Wow.  Tackling some edgy subjects is not a fearful task for Thomas Michael Riley.  He’ll tell you he’s better off after the breakup on “Givin’ Up Hope’ and he presents the subject of post-infidelity revenge in “Deathbed Confession.”  Riley has done a great job of garnering support across the state, and with his excellent writing and expert performing, he will continue to do so.  Look for big things from Riley, but don’t be surprised if he becomes extremely well known for his writing, as it is inevitable that his songs will be sung by big names.  They better hurry, though, because Riley is poised to become one of the big names himself.  A solid entertainer, Riley offers TOMMY as the next installment in this stellar career.

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