20 Dec 2018
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Robby Thorne - Album Review: The White Thorn Track

13 Mar 2018 // A review by Peter-James Dries

There is a time and place for genre pedantry.

I get that categorising artists by genre is a way of qualifying if you will like music before trying it. Someone into The Feelers is probably going to have a hard time adjusting to Sinate.

Unfortunately, it can also be a way of excluding music based on an arbitrary, subjective title, reducing a body of work to a barbed word. This closed-mindedness, this “I only listen to pure Norwegian Black Metal” mentality can stop us from experiencing something that we enjoy outside of our usual sphere. I’m not casting no stones; I was guilty of it too.

Was.

No. I am not announcing my new meatless diet. I’m talking about Robby Thorne’s solo debut The White Thorn Track.

As the former-step-son of a travelling Country Western Singer, nothing sets my skin a crawling more than Country Music. So, to see the word Country in the same sentence as this album caused repressed flashbacks to reveal themselves. I felt the reluctance to get involved with this album.

But then I listened to it. 

This isn’t the Country I was nurtured to abhor.

One of my comrades, talked about the balance of simultaneous characteristics of Rock and Country when hereviewed this album’s titular single. Sure, there is a banjo layered over the guitar riff, but I argue that the Country influence has always been hidden in Rock, albeit in a more bluesy style than I was subjected to as a child.

Also, the former-step-son of a New Plymouth-style Bogan, there was also a portion of my life spent surrounded by Sabbath, Skynyrd, AkkaDakka, Led Zep, and Guns n’ Roses. Listening to Robby Thorne, I hear more of that influence than Willie, or Haggard, or Cyrus (the elder). No doubt an artefact of Thorne’s previous experience in White Thorne, Acid Rain and Puppeteer.

The title of the first track, A Tale of Thorns, Puppets & Acid Rain alludes to these earlier bands. It’s like a title page to this chapter of Thorne’s journey, a reference to the path he rode here on, and the experience that created the solo album we have before us.

Wait. OK. I just got to track four, The Wayfaring Stranger. There’s your Country. In the style of an old country standard, it’s a track that wouldn’t seem out of place if covered by… Well… The only modern Country I know is the Dixie Chicks… Maybe not them. But someone cool.

And then we’re back into the Rock. Solid Rock. Rock n’ Roll. Well written, catchy, perfectly structured. The banjo reappears periodically, fleshing out the sound, more than driving it. I don't feel that's a missed opportunity, because I think a lot of the appeal, for me at least, is hearing new Rock being produced in the style of old Rock.

I’ve seen a lot of… Interesting… music in my years perusing the New Zealand scene. You learn to distinguish the darlings of the Industry, you know, the ones the labels have thrown what little money is left in the arts into, from those at the coalface. Those home recording or working on their own dime.

You can’t distinguish with this album. It’s solid song-writing, a great performance, with seamless recording and mixing. Even if the songs were on the fly, or off the cuff, i.e. on the spot, I’d never know. This is the kind of album that should be paraded across all mediums, not some EDM douchebag standing on stage with a laptop, FL Studio, and an expensive music video.

Ok. Robby Thorne may not be revolutionary in his mix of Country and Rock, but he’s on the right track. I don't know if anyone has heard a banjo since Deliverance... But as a whole package, the album does its job, that is to say highlighting the talent of Thorne, and introducing us to his voice and vision. Tattoos, Beards, and Cowboy Boots. And the album does that job well. It deserves a greater listenership than this country can likely offer.

Today’s lesson: never trust the label. Unless it’s medication. You should probably trust that label.

You can find the White Thorn Track on iTunes and Spotify, and for those, like me, that grew up in a world when Rock, like real Rock, was on commercial television and radio, I recommend you do.

★★★★★ (5 stars)


Review written by Peter-James Dries

 

About Robby Thorne

Robby Thorne is New Zealand's latest solo artist combining Country themes, life & stylings to hard rock heritage born from the mind of Rob Sadd (Puppeteer).

Rob Sadd was born in Auckland NZ but spent his formative growing up years in the country Western Bay's suburb of Whakamarama about 30mins out of Tauranga. He began playing live right from the first moment of picking up an electric guitar "My first guitar was purchased the day after I made my first band, at that stage I hadn't played more than a chord".

At 15, Whitethorne was born, a punk band made up of 3 local boys, this project grew to become blues rock band Acid Rain as the musician's grew in age, ability, taste & influence and established their own sound, the sound that Robby Thorne has now has evolved further into his current solo sound.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Robby Thorne

Releases

The White Thorn Track
Year: 2018
Type: Album

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