With five albums under his belt, Tom Rhodes still remains something of an outsider, a talented singer and songwriter who's yet to attain the wholesale attention he deserves. Given his warmly expressive songs and a voice that comes across as smooth as honey and with a whiskey-smoked assurance, it's hard to understand why.
That lack of an embrace will be even more difficult to explain with the release of "Who You Were," a stunning set of songs that resonate even on first hearing. Here again, Rhodes shows his ability to craft melodies so effortlessly engaging, they can't help but get under the skin. The persistent refrain that illuminates "Crumbling Road," the banjo-guilded ramble of "Orpheo Mourn" and the heartfelt emotion invested in "Who You Were" all testify to the man's ability and tenacity. Rhodes invests each of these songs with an unfettered honesty that belies any sense of pretence, and in so doing, he gifts the listener a memorable set of songs, one that remains consistently compelling throughout.
Granted, it's a difficult task to break through all the clutter and competition these days, and Rhodes' unassuming stance makes it all the more challenging still. And yet, "Who You Were" shares a sense of discovery, a feeling that while he's managed to avoid notice, the time is right for recompense. Past efforts aside, "Who You Were" appears to be a new beginning or at very least, a belated introduction to an artist that deserves due attention.