Bill Toms And Hard Rain review….August 20, 2017….

BILL TOMS AND HARD RAIN

GOOD FOR MY SOUL

TERRAPLANE RECORDS

I’D BE A RICH MAN TODAY–BACK TO MEMPHIS–NOTHING LIKE MY BABY–DEVIL’S TRAIN–HARD TO SAY GOODBYE–WORKIN–I’M SAD NO MORE–INTO THE STORM–YOUR LOVE IS GOOD FOR MY SOUL–I’M GOING HOME–DESPERATE TIMES

Bill Toms has been on the scene for a good while, fans.  He started out as lead guitarist for Joe Grushecky And The Houserockers, based outta Pittsburgh, back in 1987, and they opened for anybody who was anybody that played SteelTown back in the day.  Heck–their “American Babylon” set from 19995 was produced by Springsteen himself!

Bill’s ninth full-length release finds him working with his band, Hard Rain, and it is entitled “Good For My Soul,” for Terraplane Records.  He’s taken the Stax-Motown-Philly soul that he grew up listening to and turned it into the eleven songs herein that embody the sound and feeling from that era.  Add to that the fact that he mixes it all with a healthy dose of gospel that would make Curtis Mayfield proud.

This set was produced by Rick Witkowski and Will KImbrough, who adds slide, mandolin, and backing vocals throughout the mix.  You can’t deny the spirit that fills these grooves.  Bill has one of those gravelly, “last-stop-before-Joe-Cocker” vocal styles, and he really gets into the groove of the leadoff tale of a lover,, who,  “if I had a penny for all the pain, I’d Be A Rich Man Today.”  He digs deep into an Otis Redding groove for “Goin’ Back To Memphis,” and extols the virtues of his lover on the breezy, summertime soul of “Nothing Like My Baby.”  “Workin” is a shout-out to all his steel mill brothers, “doin’ it every day to try and pay the bills.”

Two of the more “sanctified” cuts served as our favorites.  “I’m Sad No More” is pure, unadulterated, hand-clapping, foot-stompin, AMEN-shoutin’ Sunday morning joy,  while “I’m Going Home” is a slow-blues cut with brush-stroked drums and a moral, as, even tho the subject “feels the noose on my skin,”  he also finds redemption with “peace in the Glory.”

Bill Toms, along with Steve Binsberger, who is on keys throughout, wrote all eleven of the cuts on this set.  Trust us, fans—Bill and the fellows of Hard Rain make this one sho’ nuff  “Good For My Soul,” and everyone else’s, too!   Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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