BY MICHAEL BERICK
Paul Thorn is a son of a preacher man, and you can hear him following in his father’s footsteps throughout Too Blessed To Be Stressed. From the reassuring sentiment in the album’s opener “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” to the plainspoken happiness in the closing tune, “No Place I’d Rather Be,” Thorn offers up a set filled with uplifting messages much like a minister might tell his congregation.
Thorn, however, isn’t sermonizing here even if he recommends to “Get You A Healin’,” as he sings in one tune. He simply wanted to make a “feel good” album and you’ll definitely feel good listening to these soulful songs. Thorn delivers his little life lessons in spirited roadhouse music that beautifully balances sin and salvation.
His expert blending of Saturday night with Sunday morning is best exemplified on the title track and “What Kind Of Roof Do You Live Under.” Both feature the gospel-inspired backing vocals of the great McCrary Sisters that soar over a muscular roots rock foundation. While he dispenses some worldly advice on tracks like “Don’t Let Nobody Rob You Of Your Joy,” he also addresses man’s foibles on the bluesy character study “Old Stray Dogs & Jesus” and the comical “I Backslide On Friday.”
The best touchstone for comparison would be John Hiatt. Like Hiatt, Thorn is a natural storyteller with a wry sense of humor and an easy way with a melody. Tracks like kiss-off ode “The Real Goodbye” and the wickedly witty “Mediocrity is King,” in fact, could rest comfortably on a Hiatt album.
The Mississippi native has crafted a terrific CD that serves up a two types of “soul music” – there’s the soul that radiates from the music’s grooves and the soul that resonates from the songs’ lyrics. Listening to this album makes for a truly blessed event.