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Paul Thorn: doing it his own way isn't so bad

Harper's Ferry, Boston, June 22, 2009

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Paul Thorn enjoyed such an unusual upbringing that it's no wonder he turned to music to express himself. After all, it sure made for easy subject matter. His father was a preacher at 17, which is when he married his mother, then 15. And his uncle was a pimp. While he didn't say so in concert, Thorn also was a one-time professional boxer before turning his talents elsewhere.

Thorn, 45, has been around the block, going with labels before deciding a few years ago that he was better off doing his own thing. While only about 35 people showed up in the club, they were treated to an entertaining show from Thorn mixing it up between the humorous and the serious.

Thorn played solo acoustic guitar throughout, seated on a stool. That led to an easy-going night and interaction with the crowd. He's sort of in the Springsteen mold, though not as gritty or commanding a voice by any stretch, but he did have a presence.

Released last year, Thorn did not spend a lot of time devoted to "A Long Way From Tupelo" with the title cut being one of the stronger tracks of the evening. Instead, he took a lot of requests throughout the 95-minute show.

Early on, Thorn played the humorous "800 Pound Jesus," about a statue in his father's yard that he said managed to stay upright during a very bad storm. The spiritual side of Thorn crept through in "Pimps and Preachers" about his father and uncle. "I grew up spending a lot of time with both of them," Thorn said. "They both gave me a lot of good advice." Thorn was very sharp lyrically with the line "one was Satan's angel and one worked for the Lord. I was a young disciple of pimps and preachers."

Thorn also tried out several unreleased songs, which may pop up on a new album slated for a 2010 release, sounding very good as well. Thorn wasn't afraid to go with something new as well as fan favorites, displaying a confidence.

Thorn seemed comfortable with his state in life as a musician doing it on his own. In his case, that was a good place to be.