Russ Tolman

Down in Earthquake Town

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Though Russ Tolman is best known for his time with True West, his solo work is definitely worth a listen. A case in point is Down in Earthquake Town, an album of lively rock songs with snappy, pointed lyrics. Tolman's voice isn't a beautiful instrument, but he has excellent control and gets lots of mileage from a repertoire of sounds that includes growls and yelps. He is often quite affecting -- listen to "Vegas" for a portrait of impetuous, playful love, or "Planes, Trains, Automobiles" for a great declaration of commitment. Tolman is generally classified as a singer/songwriter, but many of the songs here are anthemic rockers, with enough variety and acoustic tones to keep things interesting. Like all of Tolman's albums, Down in Earthquake Town is impeccably produced, and it's a vigorous, personal piece that deserves to be better known.

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