Album Review of Tom Ingersoll: Friday
If I were to write a quick-hit review of this recording, it would be: Tom Ingersoll is a homespun storyteller from the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, and Friday is a journey well worth joining him for. Give this album a good, deep listen.
Of course, such an abbreviated review would be a disservice to Tom’s unique American folk-based sound. And Friday‘s album-opener “What You Want” encapsulates that very sound energetically – there’s a rockabilly twang and energy underpinning Tom’s Americana-meets-folk delivery, and this song showcases his signature style ideally. Tom’s core strength is as a songwriter, and he’s created the ideal audio experience to highlight his impeccable songwriting chops, with Friday changing tempo frequently, highlighting Tom’s variety of delivery, style, and influence, centered around a cohesive, identifiable Tom Ingersoll sound.
“What You Want” is, indeed, a great disc-opener. Its pull-out-the-stops soft energy is contagious, reeling the listener in and eliciting a commitment to ride along for the rest of the disc… within limits, of course, but this album never tests those limits, as it definitely doesn’t disappoint, even for a song. Off the bat, there’s no chance to catch your breath because “High Road” follows, a jangly-raucous number that paints a vivid picture of said “high road.” It sounds like there’s a hint of a Tom Petty influence in “High Road”; it’s subtle hint.
Tom slows it down with smooth, reminiscent “Goin’ Through the Motions,” a wistful, thoughtful number. But then he brings the rougher-edged storytelling delivery back – deploying a soft version of the rough-edged vocal delivery he used in “High Road” – on “The Poorest Poet,” with its fiddlin’ and pluckin’ around a campfire vibe. Two different singing styles with the same level of emotion.
“Don’t Expect to Hear” is one of my favorites on this record. A jerky-tempoed soft opening explodes into energetic sound, all supporting Tom’s tellin’-it’-like-it-us, insightful-everyman voice. There are elements of ’70s folk-pop, California country, and Southern rock in this song, with tempo changes that keep the listener entertained and a little off-balance.
Especially on the heels of the previous songs, the soft, sweet “Nighttime on the Water” is practically a lullaby. But, of course, Tom generally follows soft songs with energy on this album, so there’s a bit of a rockin’ edge to “Where’d You Go?” – the sort of tune you might crank up just a little when you’re at the lake, during a relaxing nighttime on – or near – the water.
“Sixes and Sevens” adds a little bluesy edge to a jangly rockin’ sound bed, which Tom textures with some rhythmic vocal delivery – and, really, you can’t imagine this song being constructed any other way. There’s a slightly uneasy tension among the instruments, vocals, and song structure throughout, reminiscent of Billy Joel’s “Pressure,” and not just because “pressure” is a featured, oft-repeated lyric in “Sixes and Sevens.”
Next, and I can’t necessarily pinpoint the detail that seals it, but “Journey of Joy” is one of Friday‘s several James Taylor-recalling tunes. Earnest, relaxed, and comfortably happy, it’s another well-placed track, a great release from the previous song’s “pressure.”
Tom concludes, then, with the silliest two tracks on the album, G-rated versions of the sorts of songs one might expect from Eric Schwartz. First, “Love Letter Writer,” a truly enjoyably, clever, cheerful, a-pickin’-and-a-grinnin’ ditty; then album-ending “Why,” in which Tom seems to be almost arguing with himself. Or perhaps the voices in his head. Definitely a great way to close an enjoyable album.
More complex than you’d expect from an album so pleasant. Filled with more surprises than you might expect from a collection so cohesive. Friday is surprisingly good a delivering good surprises. Well worth a listen, which will certainly be the first of many.
Tom doesn’t have any recent or future shows listed, but you can keep track of upcoming performances at the Events tab on his Facebook page or the “Live” page at his website whenever they’re scheduled.