Written by Daniel Boyer, posted by blog admin
Move over singer/songwriters. James Blunt, Chris Daughtry, John Mayer, sure they all have their appeal with only Blunt’s mingling of styles, structures and instrumentation being in a somewhat close ballpark to the review subject, Thomas Abban. In A Sheik’s Legacy, 21-year old Minneapolis man Abban has them all beat. Though this shapeshifting, chameleon-like debut album is best listened to straight from track 1 to 15 without interruption, comparing its opening and closing track is a great way to get a hint of just how exciting of a ride that you’re in for.
Opener “Death Song” straddles a fence of sweeping, acoustic street busk and raucous yet classy 70s rock. It leaves a psychedelic, surging and ethereal imprint on the mind with its sheer number of vocal/instrumental mood changes but when you stack it up against closer “Born of Fire” and its somber cellos, piano and swinging electric guitar drones n’ licks, well you can still tell the handiwork is Abban’s but the flavors have uniquely individual spices that separate them.
This unwillingness to settle down into one mode or dumb down to fit flavor of the week subgenre’s is what gives Abban’s work its resonance and A Sheik’s Legacy its instant effect on the eardrums.
He never plays the same tune twice. One moment you’ll get the overcast atmospheres and emotionally devastating acoustic/electric, quiet/loud bursts of “Symmetry & Black Tar,” “Time to Think” or “Echo” and then suddenly the manic pacing, deliciously in-the-red drumming aggression, frantic electric guitar flurries and falsetto, street preacher vocals will die down and be reborn with cautious mid-tempo, dreamy time-keeping, melancholy acoustics and introspective vocal harmonies in songs like “Sinner,” “Let Me Tell You Something” or “Lord”, a song that features the album’s most daring vocal performance. But Thomas doesn’t stop there. With only half of the songs mentioned in this review, one still hasn’t even touched on the true range of the album. Whenever Abban isn’t relishing purely quiet, soothing gems or finding that sweet spot in the quiet/loud dynamic, he’s playing with all abandon; axing his way through a forest of tangled, Redwood bending guitars riffs across oaken numbers like “Fear,” “Aladdin” and “Uh.” Every single element that a rock fan could hope to hear on an excellent, eclectic album can be found right here…crystal clear and diamond sharp. Along the way he dabbles with symphonic stringed instruments (violin, cello), toys with keyboard/piano/organ texture-work and even provides a specialized take on vintage, Americana music with the punchy, moonshine makin’, acoustic guitar jabs of a country tune like “Don’t You Stay the Same.”
There is simply no defining or categorizing A Sheik’s Legacy neatly. Every inch of this album will yield no atmospheres to acclimate to. You are not guaranteed an easy listen but once you take in and bask in the many components of Abban’s songwriting standards and fiercely original musical/vocal quirks, you ARE guaranteed a rewarding listen. Everyone should put an ear to this record and challenge themselves to discover a daring new artist.