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Tom Heyman

Boarding House Rules – 2000 (Innerstate)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Tom Heyman

Formerly a member of the late, lamented Go To Blazes, Tom Heyman has taken time out from his current gigs with San Francisco outfits Map of Wyoming and The Court and Spark to release a solo album. Given that Heyman contributed a goodly amount of both songwriting and ferocious guitar-playing to Go To Blazes, it's not surprising that some of the material here is reminiscent of his former group - the growling tempo of "Sixteen Blocks To Go," and Heyman's rocking guitar solo mid-song in "Gravedigger" for instance - but the effect is more evocative than reduplicative.

There's also a lot of the same lyrical outlook in evidence: "In case you don't know, I've got troubles of my own," Heyman sings in "Out Of My Mind Again," and those troubles - of excess, of desperation in love, of being down-and-out with no way up - are a pretty pervasive presence here. At the same time, there's the alt.-country lean of the pedal steel sweetened "Till I Forget Her Name," the slow, dreamlike pace of "Baby Likes," the country-flecked ballad "Sweet Siren Song," and the bluesy acoustic slide-work of "The Loving Kind," all of which add up to making this a strong first outing.