A little more than a year ago, Neshanic Station-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Tom Flynn released Travels, a 10-track disc that lives up to its name. Travels meanders in and out of styles, genres and tempos while taking listeners on an eclectic journey inside the artist’s mind.
Produced by Tom Brislin — who has performed with Yes, Meat Loaf, Renaissance and many others — and mastered by Stephen DeAcutis, this CD has great sonic quality and instrumentation to go along with unique lyrics and interpretations.
Track One, “Automatic People,” starts off with an ’80s feel a la the Gin Blossoms and a slightly edgy bass-driven breakdown about three quarters of the way in. Flynn has recently released a video for this cut that can be seen below.
“Fuel Line” is in the No. 2 position and kicks in with an upbeat, distorted, bluesy guitar riff that segues into a pop feel punctuated by synthesizer interludes which give the song a familiarity. Here, too, the sound has a definite blast from the past; think The Cars’ “Just What I Needed.” A catchy tune that grabs your attention and would’ve made a nice first track had that spot not already been taken.
The third track, “Tradition Trains,” is a considerable downshift from the openers and with its haunting vocals and harmonies is a stark contrast to the other two. A Fender Rhodes sound buried just beneath the surface mixed with a rich bass line leading the way give this tune progressive rock overtones.
Up next is “Just a Song,” another slow piece led by a deep bass line and straightforward acoustic rhythms. This one feels out of place; not sure whether it’s a filler track or intentional.
“Beautiful” has very nice piano and acoustic guitar work with synthesized string accents and a reverb-laden vocal track that paint this offering with an almost medieval feel. Picture a troubadour with a lute. Well-penned lyrics give it some warmth.
Track six, “Your Trail Goes Cold” is a half-speed electric ditty that feels like it’s on the edge of busting loose. Picture a young boy being held back from running away by his shirttails. A snappy rhythm with a tasty guitar solo and underlying keyboards keep this tune going forward and although not too upbeat, it still works well.
“Long Line Waiting” is another song with haunting vocals similar to “Tradition Trains” and features well-played acoustic guitar with some very good production work. This, too, has an Emerson, Lake & Palmer progressive vibe.
Like “Fuel Line” and “Beautiful,” “Tick Tock Man” was co-written with producer Brislin. With its dynamics, swells and great drum work, it takes us on a ride around the park. Reminiscent of the Moody Blues, this one cooks, and even at an opus-like 6:48, it is easily one of the highlights of the album.
If a country guitarist mated with Keith Emerson, their love child would be track nine, “Playground.” This too has some pep in its step and will get toes tappin’.
The song that ends this journey features backing vocals by the fabulous Michaela McClain and is titled “Lullaby Your Way Home. Percussion and acoustic guitar are the mainstays of this one, with some synthesizer at the end — an apt finish for this collection.
Travels is diverse in its presentation and shows some of Flynn’s versatility as an artist. This is a good album for those who enjoy ’70s progressive rock with some occasional new wave and folk bits thrown into the recording cauldron.
For information, visit tomflynnsongwriter.com.
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