Tom Paxton

Wearing the Time

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Wearing the Time (1994) proved to be something of a comeback for Tom Paxton, or at least a return to form. Although he was putting out laudable CDs for kids in the early '90s, he hadn't delivered an adult-oriented set of songs since 1991. Thanks in part to the popularity of Nanci Griffith's 1993 homage to old folkys, Other Voices, Other Rooms, interest in '60s-era folk stars had reawakened among contemporary folk audiences. Paxton emerged from a self-admitted bout with depression in 1994 with this 12-song set on the Sugar Hill label. Produced in Nashville by Jim Rooney (who also produced Nanci Griffith) and sprinkled with admiring quotes from the leading lights of contemporary folk, Wearing the Time brims with mature songwriting. Paxton is settling into his golden years with grace and wit intact. A couple songs, notably "Along the Verdigris," revisit his home turf of Oklahoma, while others pay tribute to his wife, a lost love, and old timers from the folk scene and civil rights days. The title track deals matter-of-factly with getting older. A couple of topical songs make it onto the album: "When I Go to See My Son" dramatizes the pain of a broken home and "Johnny Got a Gun" deals with youths and gun violence. Paxton's lighter side emerges on the double-entendre-rich "Coffee in Bed" and a retread of his '60s classic "Bottle of Wine." Pretty much what you come to expect from a Tom Paxton album: rich songwriting, warm singing, and gentle playing.

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