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Paul Thorn

Too Blessed to Be Stressed – 2014 (Perpetual Obscurity)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Paul Thorn

Considering his former career as a professional boxer, it's appropriate that Paul Thorn pulls no punches in his critique of modern pop culture "Mediocrity is King" (and "They manufacture stars on a TV stage / Johnny Cash couldn't get arrested today" just might be the lyric of the year.) He does nothing to soften the blow in the break-up song "This Is A Real Goodbye" either.

But those two tracks are anomalies. Thorn says he he wrote the songs on this album "hoping they might put people in a positive mindset and encourage them to count their blessings" and on that he has succeeded, even more so than on his previous CDs. It's like after 2012's collection of covers "What the Hell is Going On? Thorn was champing at the bit to get back to what he does best. And songs of joy like the title track and "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" while acknowledging the difficulties along the way ("I Backslide on Friday") are Thorn's specialty. What saves it from becoming monotonous is Thorn's ever-present humor. The protagonist of "Stray Dogs and Jesus" has nothing more than a pooch and a prayer and yet the song is ultimately uplifting.

Those of you with fond memories of Paul Thorn's devastating songs of loss and heartbreak like "Where Was I?" or "I Have a Good Day" will have to find somebody's else's songs to cry to. Paul Thorn is too blessed to be stressed and too happy to be sappy.