Album Reviews

Tom Heyman

Show Business, Baby

Artist:     Tom Heyman

Album:     Show Business, Baby

Label:     Bohemian Neglect Recording Works

Release Date:     10.20.17  

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Booze flows freely on Tom Heyman’s Show Business, Baby, which goes on a raucous, freewheeling pub-rock bender that should land him in the drunk tank. Having avoided a run-in with the law, Heyman isn’t ready to sleep it off until he’s finished his aching cover of Bobby Fuller’s “Baby My Heart,” the record’s closer.

That’s where Show Business, Baby finally hits the sheets, having painted the town red with its sultry, mid-tempo swing, swaggering male bravado and motoring drive. Brought to life by sharply defined guitar figures, simmering organs, crisp drumming and distinctive bass movements, the songwriting is confident, honest and engaging, as “Baby Let Me In” and “Etch A Sketch” open the record with smart, sure hooks and effusive charm. There’s plenty of that to go around.

While matters of the heart are treated with surprising tenderness, as the ballad “What in the World” reflects on broken relationships, Show Business, Baby enjoys indulging in bad behavior. “Daddy Rollin’” and “Show Business” are unrepentant rogues hoping for a little luck, while the 100-proof “Whiskey Wolf” is a satisfying shot of low, rumbling rockabilly and the herky-jerky, honky-tonk piano delirium of “Slow It Down” throws a wild party that leaves the place a mess. Heyman doesn’t seem interested in cleaning it up.

His wry humor shines on Show Business, Baby, an album that draws its sense of spirited fun and rock ‘n’ roll heart from Rockpile and NRBQ. Recent stints as a sideman with the likes of John Doe and Alejandro Escovedo seem to have impacted his work as well, as the infectious “Out West” feels like a desert town hiding secrets. That’s Show Business, Baby.

—Peter Lindblad

 

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