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Paul Thorn

Mission Temple Fireworks Stand – 2002 (Back Porch)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Paul Thorn

On his previous CD, "Ain't Love Strange," rootsy singer Paul Thorn looked at jealousy and betrayal and other potential side effects of romantic love. He's turned his attention to the spiritual realm this time out with equally impressive results. Almost every track here has religious overtones, and even the tracks that are not overtly spiritual ("Everybody Looks Good at the Starting Line," "Rise Up") offer some folksy philosophical wisdom. Thorn is the son of a Church of God minister, but he's also been a professional boxer, so his brand of Christianity is a more muscular than the hearts and hallelujah kind.

Thorn always peppers his parables with humor. The title song is about a combination church and fireworks stand where "bottle rockets are two-for-one, but salvation's free." The neighbors are happy when the young couple "Ain't Livin' in Sin No More," but they worry they'll have no one to gossip about. On "Nothin' But The Devil" lawyers offer to "sue your dog for chasing your cat."

And Thorn can elicit tears as easily as he can chuckles. "Angel Too Soon" attempts to make sense of the death of a child. "Even Heroes Die" teaches us that "this world ain't no place to be when you're larger than life." And if that's not impressive enough Thorn also painted the album cover. A true Renaissance man, Paul Thorn can knock you out with his fist or with his heart.