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Tom Ovans - Party Girl

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 21 / 9 / 2007

Tom Ovans - Party Girl
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD


Eleventh album from hit and miss raspy-voiced Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter Tom Ovans, which, despite his extensive back catalogue, proves to be one of the best albums in his long career

Austin based Tom Ovans has never been an easy ride. ‘Party Girl’ is, according to the press release, his eleventh album (I have obviously missed some) and the follow-up to 2005’s acclaimed ‘Honest Abe & The Assassins’. Since first hearing Ovans way back in 1996 on ‘Nuclear Sky’ ( which was a compilation of sorts featuring as it did songs from even earlier albums like ‘ Industrial Days’, ‘Unreal City’ and ‘Tales From The Underground’) the singer/songwriter has appeared on at least 3 different labels and his albums haven’t always been so easy to track down. Not much has changed in the musical world Ovans inhibits in those last eleven years. The Dylan comparisons still ring loud and clear and it’s just possible that Ovans' raspy vocals are even more raw these days; he never veers far from the bluesy sound he was making all those years ago, the harmonica is still featured heavily and for the most part his songs are more like little movies littered with interesting but dubious characters. But Ovans, as always, draws you into this world and, despite it not sounding that appealing, you go willingly. For me, nothing can really touch a couple of songs that I heard for the first time on ‘Nuclear Sky’. ‘Crazy’ is still arguably the best song Ovans has written so far and ‘Angelou’ comes a close second. But on each successive album Ovans, while staying close to the sound and spirit of his very first albums, has always delivered at least half a dozen excellent songs and a few that are below his usual standard. He has yet to produce an album that is 100% satisfactory from start to finish. ‘Party Girl’ is no exception. Thirteen songs that cover much the same musical ground as before and feature the same array of characters ( and let’s be honest, an Ovans album that didn’t include songs about the losers, the hard-done-bys, the dreamers and women you wouldn’t want to take home to introduce to your mother wouldn’t be a Tom Ovans album would it?) and once again at least half of the songs are immediate and are obviously destined to become favourites and the other half are…harder work to be honest. For the uninitiated Ovans has one of those voices that you are either going to love or loath. If Bob Dylan or Tom Waits appeal to you then the chances are you are going to find a lot to like about Tom Ovans. If you find it hard to take that husky, raw vocal delivery then steer clear as Ovans can sound like he has been gargling on gravel. There are many now who travel down that same Americana highway that Ovans does. The fact is that he was one of the very first to produce this stark, dense strain of gritty alt. country based blues. And the reason that I, like so many others, welcome the release of every new Ovans album is that he still delivers the goods better than any other artist in this genre. This latest album was recorded live onto analogue tape with a storm raging outside in a small Texan studio with a minimum of overdubs. It sounds just like that should. When Ovans gets it right the results are stunning. Take the title song, ‘Party Girl’ it’s Ovans at his bar-room rocking best and then he turns in some of the best ballads he has ever put to tape in ‘Sugar Mama’ and the effecting ‘Hole In My Shoe’, one of a handful of songs to feature Ovans wife Lu Ann Bardash on backing vocals. This album contains some of Ovans best work to date; given the recording details I was expecting it to feature more of his rockier songs but, in fact, it features some of his most touching ballads he has ever recorded. Try ‘Both Sides Of The Night’ for Ovans at his absolute best. ‘Party Girl’ after a few plays has proved that it is going to be in the CD player a lot more than the last few Ovans albums. I’d go as far as to say it is his best collection of songs since ‘Nuclear Days’ which is an album I never thought he would match. Here’s looking to the twelfth one Tom.

Track Listing:-
1 Party Girl
2 Whiskey Jar
3 Sugar Mama
4 I'll Be Seeing You
5 Hole In My Shoe
6 Ain't No River
7 Both Sides Of The Night
8 Nobody Knows
9 Ooh Baby
10 Rosalie
11 Somebody Told Me
12 West Texas Blues

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Get on Board (2009)
Fabulous twelfth album from gritty-voiced Texas-based singer-songwriter, Tom Ovans

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