Gor Mkhitarian

Godfather Tom

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Singer/songwriter and electrifying guitar player Gor Mkhitarian leads the march out of the Armenian underground with a wicked blend of traditional Armenian folk music and Western-influenced rock. His sophomore release Godfather Tom picks up right where the gorgeous and pastoral Yeraz left off, but this time around Mkhitarian has a full band to contend with, and he does so with remarkable results. From the opening notes of the leadoff track -- and album namesake -- it's clear that the artist has found his inner Springsteen. Despite the mostly acoustic arrangements and simple but effective melodies, Mkhitarian and group burn through each track like an Eastern European Soweto band in a sweaty, beer-soaked West Texas dancehall. Each song is anchored by the singer's intricate guitar work which is nestled beneath a flurry of banjo and mandolin leads that seem to leap out of the speakers with each repeated listen. Vocally, he exudes laid-back warmth than can occasionally rise up out of nowhere and demand attention like an angry father, but the singer never looks down on his protagonists, rather he invites them in for an impromptu harmony. Western listeners need not worry about the record's language barrier, as Mkhitarian has unveiled a collection of songs that require only the voluntary movement of the feet to appreciate them, and it's the involuntary movement of the heart that follows and serves as Godfather Tom's most rewarding attribute. Highly Recommended.

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