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Tales from Thom Scarecrow
Artist: David Wolfenberger
Label: Blue Jordan Records/Paste Music
Time: 12 Tracks/52:53 minutes

David Wolfenberger seems both mellow and menacing at the same time. His appearance on the cover of Tales From Thom Scarecrow seems benign, but occasionally the force behind his voice can warn the listener that he is actually power under control.

Two of the best examples of this are is on tracks six and eight ("Notes from the Vault" and "Apocalyptic Dream #13"). In both songs, his voice is ripe with tension and internal conflict. He is vocally subtle, while also sounding tortured. This uncommon mixture makes Tales from Thom Scarecrow a provocative album.

Instead of lyrics for each song , the liner notes include his commentary on them. The tortured sound in "Notes from the Vault" is explained a bit in his notes as follows: "Notes from the Vault was the working title for this album for a while and is probably a little too revealing for me. This song turned 
out exactly the way I envisioned it when I wrote it. It's dark and yet colorful."

The almost menacing sound in Apocalyptic Dream #13 is also explained by Wolfenberger's notes: "The lyric is one of the many dark, hollow, misty mountain, apocalyptic visions I have had... It is sung with much more resolve than I truly have."

The fourth song on the album has an pleasantly out-of-place banjo-pickin' Appalachian holler hillbilly tune with some very short but funky lyrics:

    Tell your mother
    Tell your brother 
    Tell your whole family Old Baker's son is dead.

The prettiest song on the album has to be the second track, "Windmills." Wolfenberger's harmonies with Rene Frye are beautiful and well-mixed.

Wolfenberger's most mellow song might be "Goin' To Boston." But whether he's singing with an obvious tortured strain or with a more mellow sound, Wolfenberger has an eloquent and intelligent sound.

Ric Hordinski not only produced this album, but he played various instruments in eight of the twelve songs on the album--a clear advantage for the mixing and instrumental qualities of the album.

If the album has a weakness, its the lack of up-tempo tunes. Yet, because Wolfenberger's voice and straight folk musical style doesn't lend itself to the more up-tempo and rowdy sound, it must be said that this folksy mood album has a higher quality than many albums in its genre. And, considering 
Wolfenberger's said eleven of the album's twelve songs were written in the past year, his next album could benefit from taking a bit more time to cut down on the number of melancholy tunes and adding some faster and louder ones.

Israel Kloss 1/30/2000

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