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Hammer and Nail
2000, Perpetual Obscurity Records
Paul Thorn is another one of those not-quite-country, not-quite-rock singer-songwriters that radio hasnt a clue what to do with, so his only choice is to tour relentlessly, building his career one town at a time. Those who have been lucky enough to "discover" his music will be more than a little pleased to know that he has finally got the rights back to Hammer and Nail, his 1997 release (originally on the now-defunct A&M Records). Thorn had signed on with A&M shortly (very shortly) before their demise. In a recent Music Matters Review interview, he simply said "the ship was sinking just as I was getting on the ship."
He has since built his own ship and has re-released Hammer and Nail on his own label, Perpetual Obscurity Records. Like last years Aint Love Strange, Hammer and Nail is another acoustic blues record full of great tunes about love gone wrong, told from the point of view of a diehard romantic who refuses to give up: "I wish the wind could blow me back in time/ Those were the days/ I had it made when you were/ temporarily forever mine."
Thorn was a middleweight fighter for a few years, the highlight of which was a televised fight with Roberto Duran. He "sums it up real well" in the title track: "I climbed in the ring with Roberto Duran and the punches began to rain down /He hit me with a dozen hard uppercuts and my corner threw in the towel/ I asked him why he had to knock me out and he summed it up real well/ he said Id rather be a hammer than a nail."
One track in particular, "800 Pound Jesus" "sums up" Paul Thorn "real well," as well. Thorn was raised in church, the father of a minister, and theres a strong gospel influence in much of his music. Thorns father has a statue of Jesus in his front yard, and like any good artist, Thorn got a song out of it: "Hes an 800 Pound Jesus/ standing taller than a tree/ Hes an 800 pound Jesus/ A bigger man than you or me."
Hammer and Nail is a great introduction to this emerging singer-songerwriter, and a must-have for any of his fans waiting for that next release.Michael Gaither