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Reviews:: Thomas/Richard - The Promises We Make

After listening to The Promises We Make, the latest album from Halifax's Thomas/Richard (aka Richard Lann), the natural instinct might be to think of him as a tremendously shy or invtroverted soul.
The intimate, confessional nature of tracks like Ghosts Don't Hurt Other Ghosts or Alone With The Dark are more likely to conjure up images of a singer-songwriter alone in his room pouring his soul into song, rather than in a packed club rocking out. All that being said, the lengthy list of contributors on this album suggests that Thomas/Richard is nowhere near as shy as I'd have you believe.

For his second full-length album, this New Glascow native enlisted the talents of folks like Jon McKiel, as well as members of bands like the Sleepless Nights, Quiet Parade, and The Establishment. As our reviews for the latest albums from Jon McKiel and The Sleepless Nights can attest, Thomas/Richard is working with some talented people. Despite the valuable contributions from the guests, this remains a Thomas/Richard album through and through. His songwriting is vulnerable, and honest, yet he always maintains a pop aesthetic on his songs, which manifests itself in catchy hooks on most songs, even the saddest ones.

Richard's delivery also keeps your attention, as he tends to draw out his verses, stretching words for dramatic effect no matter the tempo of the song. The album opener, A Special Noise, provides a good example of this. It's an uptempo track, featuring breakbeat-stlye drums, strummed guitar and some great horns, matched with drawn-out vocals that one would normally expect on a slower song. It's a great combination, makes the song very memorable. The horns are great too. I haven't said this in a while, but horns make everything better. Things take a turn for the sad on the second song, with The Fire feeling as hopeless as A Special Noise does optimistic.

If I had to pick a theme song for this album, it might be Better Days Are Getting Better with it's lyics about being alone but not lonely. That theme of sadness mixed with an undercurrent of acceptance/happiness runs throughout the album. It's also a great song, starting out as a quiet, solo acoustic with drums and group vocals joining the mix halfway through. When Hearts Explode, a mix of uptempo acoustic and electric guitar, does an excellent job conveying the emotion involved when one has to give up on a love that just isn't going to happen. Great title, great song, perhaps my favorite (either this or A Special Noise).

The fragile Ghosts Don't Hurt Other Ghosts also possesses a nifty title and is easily the best song I've ever heard that has a backing track composed of acoustic guitar, footsteps, rain, and wind. From Here is a catchy look at dealing with the loss of a someone close to you, it also has some lovely xzylophone and horns. Perhaps I've mentioned how I feel about the horns, needless to say, I like this one.

Thomas/Richard's bio references people like Low, Hayden, and Elliot Smith. If you're at all interested in those folks, I would suggest that The Promises We Make is absoutely worth your time. I hear he may be touring in the Spring, but for now you can, and should, enjoy this lovely, poigniant album.

myspace :: label :: buy it

MP3:: Thomas/Richard - When Hearts Explode

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