Tom Rhodes’ Who You Were – A Beautiful And Musical Legacy

I was sent this album a few weeks ago and have not stopped listening to it since. It comes out next Friday, July 15… and for those lucky enough to live in LA (something you’ll not often hear me say), the album release show is the same night, at the famed and fabulous Hotel Cafe.

4PAN1TWho You Were is immediately familiar… and familiar gives us comfort… it clues us into something we already know. That’s why all that food we grew up with, that sure as hell ain’t good for us, is called comfort food. It makes us feel good and helps us reminisce and reconnect. But if that’s all there is, it’s redundant… It may be pleasant, but there’s no point.

This artist and this album is different. We start off knowing… yes… but by the last note, we may understand where we came from, but we definitely want to explore more and we certainly want to grow. Stellar vocals, impeccable songwriting and expert musicianship make this a true stand out.

The opening track “Crumbling Roads” will have you immediately thinking Ray LaMontagne… that smooth gruff… that rocking “Velvet Fog.” You also get colors of John Hiatt, AJ Croce and Jason Isbell… And yet after a short while you’ll be hearing nothing but Tom.

Singer-songwriter, folk, country, Americana and a bit of alt. country Rock n’ Roll. This is definitely in my wheel house!

Who You Were is the fifth full length record put out by this Oakland, CA musician, and it also happens to be my introduction to Tom. If this is where I am starting, I am happy to go back and listen to more… to see where he came from… And certainly to see where he’s going. He’s been at this for over 10 years, and was even on The Voice, Season 9 last year!

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It was recorded at Gawain Mathews studio in Pinole, CA, the album features:
Oscar Westesson on bass
Andrew Laubacher on drums
Tim Marcus on guitar and pedal steel
And The Lady Crooners, Kyle M. Terrizzi, and Kelly McFarling on background vocals.

The record is a tribute to his father, who sadly passed away last Fall, and while each song may not be about him, it was influenced and inspired by his father’s wisdom and storytelling. The closer “Who You Were” is a loving gut punch… so beautiful and sweet. You can hear the love and admiration, the hurt and loss… but the legacy and torch has clearly been passed… And isn’t that the very purpose of our lives?

“These stories aren’t just learned from my dad, but this is me taking on that role as he passed away and sort of left that role… This is the conversation I would want to have with my kid, if I had one. I wanted to write about the things that a father tells a son or daughter.”

Tom’s philosophy is simple and pure, but something too many musicians forget.
“To me, singing songs is about passionately connecting with the thing I’m talking about, and if you’re singing about something that you actually believe in it’s really easy to get there.”

While I truly love this record, song to song, “Every Damn Day” is easily my favorite track on the album. It so speaks to the journey I am on right now… exploration and self-exploration… looking outward and inward… keeping an open mind, yet balancing it with a healthy skepticism and always asking life’s big questions..

And its message is also so very vital for this crazy world. It’s been another rough week, and another all too vivid reminder that we all need to join arms and hands and hearts… to move forward in peace and wisdom… to be human… to be love. Thanks, Tom!

“Find your love and give it away
Work yourself down to bone
Reach inside and turn their lights on

Then do it again
Then do it again
And do it again until every damn day till you find out

You are not alone

Throw yourself into the cold
Forge yourself from smoke and fire
Question everything you think you’ve ever known

Then do it again
Then do it again
And you do it again until every damn day till you find out

You are not alone

Feel your heartbeat slowing down
Let the all be all around
Catch your breath when you lose your way

You’ll find it again
You’re gonna find it again
You’ll find it again every damn day
You’re gonna find out

You are not alone

Know yourself from skin to soul
Forgive yourself the past is gone
Open up your eyes and see that you are home
Because you are home

Then do it again
Do it again
And you do it again and every damn day

Till you find out that you are not alone”

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