The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

TONY JOE WHITE
THE SHINE

Swamp Records, 2010

 

By Shane Pinnegar

 


By my count “THE SHINE” is Tony Joe White’s eighteenth studio album over a career dating back to the late sixties. The great man has toured the world more times than I’ve had hot dinners, had not only his most famous song (‘Polk Salad Annie’) covered by none other than Elvis, but several others as well, and has stuck staunchly to his swamp rock sound throughout a glittering career. Personally, I’ve never read a poor review for any of his albums or shows, which is more than you can say for most artists.

 

On “THE SHINE”, Tony Joe is reflective and wistful, his rich voice retains the deep timbre of yore, but now it wavers ever so slightly, in much the same way as the great Johnny Cash’s did as he approached his last few recordings with Rick Rubin.

 

The parallel is worth exploring – White and Cash have both matured along the same lines, not hiding the age and fragility in their voices, instead allowing the weight of their years to come out in his singing. Like Cash, this tiniest of hairline cracks in White’s voice only adds to his humanity and the hefty weight his mighty baritone delivers.

 

Lyrically “THE SHINE” finds Tony Joe White wistful and longing. There is great beauty here, delivered with such simplicity and honesty that reminds you of days gone by, before the record industry became a machine.

 

I bought a guitar in a pawn shop
In the middle of a thunderstorm,
I took it outside
And let the rain was it clean

(From ‘Paintings on the Mountain’)

 

Simple, beautiful, from the soul.

 

All the tracks here were recorded in one room with an accomplished yet restrained group of musicians, usually on the first or second take. Once again the simplicity of the music and lyrics only adds to the beauty herein, a beauty which goes far deeper than just a nice tune, good playing and some cool words.

 

Tony Joe has explained that "The Shine" is the moment where you're doing exactly what you ought to be doing. Or as he sings on ‘Tell Me Why’,

 

It’s all about the song, keeping it simple
Gotta have passion, gotta have soul

 

That’s what “THE SHINE” is all about.


Read my interview with Tony Joe White HERE

Tony Joe White is touring Australia in May – you’d be a fool not to check him out