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Tom Ovans - Get on Board

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 28 / 11 / 2009

Tom Ovans - Get on Board
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD


Fabulous twelfth album from gritty-voiced Texas-based singer-songwriter, Tom Ovans

Tom Ovans appears to prefer to record his albums in studios and conditions that are a little different. His last album, ‘Party Girl’ was recorded with a storm raging outside and for ‘Get On Board’, his twelfth album, he is in a primitive analogue studio, The Sweat Box, which shares space with a concrete fabrication company and where one has to brave the obstacle course of cement mixers, power tools and work benches to get there. Somehow it all seems to fit in with the sound Ovans creates over these thirteen songs. It’s pretty much business as usual over the 56 minutes that it takes from opening rocker ‘Get On Board’, a typical Ovans up-tempo number; a simple melody just crying out to be sung along to and Ovans' vocals at their raspy best with brilliant lead guitar as usual from Larry Chaney, to the closing epic ‘Too Late Now’ which is almost eight minutes of one of Ovans' best story/songs that he delivers in that talking/singing style of his which so many of his fans prefer to his more rockier songs. The bleakness in Ovans' ballads has always been one of his greatest attractions. By now Ovans must be sick and tired of the Dylan comparisons but to be honest although Ovans' vocals out-grit Dylan’s by some considerable way, Dylan hasn’t really sounded this desolate since ‘Time Out of Mind’. Thankfully it appears that Ovans won’t be making an album of Christmas songs that you can’t listen to without making you feel nauseous. At least all the time he can write songs of the calibre of the ballad, ‘Rainbows’ or even the kick-ass ‘Breakdown And Cry’. As has been said before Ovans' vocals are very much those of a non-singer; one of those artists who you either love or loath. I’ve loved the real emotion Ovans expresses in all his songs be it ballad or rock since the first time I heard him many years ago and, although for the most part Ovans lyrics inhibit the darker side of life and some dubious characters, I can’t help but be fascinated by the sound I hear every time he sings. For all the Dylan traits there is something about Ovans' vocals that is 100% original ; you know it’s Ovans and not Dylan straight from the off. But it’s not just in the vocals, it has to be said that Dylan is just not delivering original songs of this standard these days. For those of us who prefer Ovans in ballad mode there are more than a few treats on offer here. ‘Every Single One’ is Ovans at his most eerily best. With Lou Ann Bardash adding almost ghostly vocals to this song it’s one of the best songs Ovans has put down in recent years. ‘Taken With You’ which is another of Ovans slower songs, has an unexpectedly pretty tune, not something you’d necessarily expect of Ovans. Not that Ovans is one of those artists who seem to think that good lyrics or a compelling story is an excuse to not bother writing a tune to frame the words in. His songs always have strong melodies, but ‘Taken With You’ has an exceptionally sweet tune, especially for Ovans. It’s always surprising how an artist who has such saw-like vocals, and let’s face it Ovans' voice could cut through most things, can turn on the charm and come across as a caring romantic. That edge, that growl is still there of course but Ovans can show a gentler side when he wants. When reviewing ‘Party Girl’ some years back I thought that it contained some of Ovans best work to date then. Well, he has just upped the bar a little more as ‘Get On Board’ is the most consistently good album Ovans has made so far. It may be a cliché but there really isn’t a dud song on this album. For those who know what to expect from Ovans and have liked his previous work then ‘Get On Board’ is a must-buy as it contains some of the man’s best material from his long career, for others who long for Dylan to get back to the glories of ‘Time Out of Mind’ then lend an ear to this album; you won’t be disappointed.

Track Listing:-
1 Get on Board
2 Rainbows
3 Breakdown and Cry
4 Candy Lane
5 Every Single One
6 Taken with You
7 Honorable Mention
8 Never Been in Love
9 On My Way
10 Night Train
11 Western Plains Blues
12 What I Saw
13 Too Late Now

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Party Girl (2007)
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

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