A Few of the Best...

A Few of the Best...
JJ Grey, Lindsey Buckingham, Eddie Vedder, Richard Thompson

Monday, July 20, 2009

William Topley Concert Report - Mauch Chunk Opera House (Jim Thorpe, PA)

So those of us who were there last Saturday, July 18 were of course wondering why this great talent isn't recognized more on the east coast. I was so honored to finally get to see this soulful Brit and his great group. Showing such wonderful British manners, Topley thanked the Opera House sponsors, not once, but five times over the course of the evening, for bringing him to Jim Thorpe, showing unexpected grace and gratitude for this small audience of perhaps 50 people. The group, a woman singing harmonies, his lead guitarist and Topley were as tight and together as a group could be. No woman could sing with this guy and not have a strong set of pipes, and she's fabulous. His lead guitarist was a treasure. The three of them sang everything from his most recent wonderful CD Water Taxi, and many songs from previous albums.

The two 'standout' things about William Topley are his voice, and the incredible melodies he sings. Topley has a range that takes him from 'growling' to 'howling' when he sings. That made me fall in love with his sound straight off when I first heard him four years ago.

Watching him sing last Saturday, I was thinking about the kind of crushingly romantic lyrics he writes about women and love. It's the closest thing to Dylan's kind of passionate poetry I've heard yet. As a rock and roll loving woman, it makes me melt.

The CD Feasting With Panthers was my first taste of William Topley. Yikes. I'll provide a snapshot of several of Topley's CD's, but this remains by far my favorite, and it blew me out of the water right from the get-go. He's got the blues thing down, and he sounds like he grew up on the bayou playing guitar as a youngster. (How do these Brits do it???) There's a lot of 'growling' and 'howling' on this stunning CD. I Can't Wait has an angry-about-love reprise "...I know it's bad, but if I can't have you, anyone will do!". He delivers it so well. Los Largos is possibly the most musically brilliant piece he's ever done...ever. There's a dreamy set of melodic transitions and key changes, with Spanish dialogue behind it while he intones "I want to hold you by my side, I want to make you laugh, I want to make you cry", and the unforgettably 'cool' (my favorite) growled reprise, "What you gotta do to get ahead these days it seems, you gotta rock Manhattan and Staten, the Bronx, Jamaica and Queens". Do not miss this particular CD.

Other CD highlights for Topley include:
  • Sea Fever - Song of a Seabird, Sophia, I Don't Wanna Go Uptown, Drink Called love
  • Black River - The Ring (listen to him growl), Drink Called Love, Black River, You Don't Love Me Anymore (great harmonies)
  • Spanish Wells - Ten Ten (more growling!),Walk Like I Do
Topley grew up in Britain, and is heavily influenced by Van Morrison, The Stones, Sting, Dire Straits ... but more than anything, the best of American soul and southern rock. Go to his website and listen to the sound bytes there, the first of which right now is 'Sixteen'.

That's it for now. I wanted to report on this artist and his concert in Jim Thorpe (good concerts there by the way, and great place to visit during the day!). Let's try to get him back to the east coast soon! As I'd mentioned, the next entries will be about Daniel Lanois and Papa Mali ... two artists well worth reviewing.

Over and out,

Free Fallin' Kristin

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