I first heard became aware of David Thom almost twenty years ago at a show in San Francisco. At that time he already struck me as one of the best bluegrass guitar players and singers I had even seen in the Golden State. Being a long-time bluegrass fanatic and festival-goer myself, I hopefully had a fairly solid basis for that opinion.
Since then, his talents have continued to grow, and have now reached a culmination with his brand new CD, “That Old Familiar.” The array of songs and tempos on this CD makes for an incredibly fun listen, and will please the most faithful of bluegrass purists – as well as fans who like their bluegrass to wander off a bit into related genres while still packing the same traditional punch. Anyone who ever claimed that “all bluegrass sounds the same” has clearly never heard a David Thom record.
Very few bluegrass musicians who can be described as truly “elite” players are also known for being at the top of their game vocally. David definitely resides in this rare group. Want proof? Pick up this CD and prepare yourself for a stunning festival of playin’ AND singin’! Perhaps just as impressive as the fantastic vocal work and amazing guitar playing is the current breadth of David’s style and the overall sense of musicality that this CD represents. Or in less ‘fancy’ terms – his damn fine taste! This is reflected in the variety of songs that he is able to tackle and make his own, with precision, authority, and – most importantly – a knack for wringing the emotion and truth out of a tune and getting to it’s core heart. The CD contains an inspired mix of covers ans well as several originals – all of which stand favorably with the covers as a testament to his enormous talents as a writer.
As for the recording itself, David has long known the value of surrounding yourself with extraordinary talent to bring out the best in a song. I’ve seen him perform with a number of bands, and in different incarnations over the years, and the musical company he keeps has always been top-notch – and it remained so for this recording session. For a guy who has shared stages and pickin’ parties with the likes of David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Laurie Lewis, Kathy Kallick and many other bluegrass luminaries, this comes as no surprise.
So…the bottom line: For anyone who likes bluegrass, or thinks they may want to hear some of the best music of ANY genre being made right now in the state of California – you owe it to yourself to check out this CD. And do your best to see David play live. He fronts his own band and plays regularly in a Flatt & Scruggs tribute band. And like many top players and singers, he can also be found sitting in with all sorts of folks around the Bay Area, just making great music. Check his site – thedtb.com – for the latest dates. A few more bonus points: He’s also damn funny, and wildly entertaining onstage.
A real treat. Five stars.