Patrick Coman – Tree Of Life | Album Review

Patrick Coman – Tree Of Life

For The Sake Of The Song Records

12 tracks; 45 minutes

Patrick Coman spent several years working in the music industry, both as a musician and working in radio and promotion but when his daughter was born he decided to become a full-time parent by day and a musician by night. Although he had recently relocated to Virginia he used musicians he knew from his time in New England to record this album in Massachusetts; his debut album is entirely original apart from one cover of a Leon Russell song.

Like Leon, Patrick is an Oklahoma native and shares the style of laid-back vocals that fans of Leon and JJ Cale will find familiar as the music ranges across rock, country, Americana and roots music, with a few elements of blues, as on a track like “Keep My Soul”. Peter Parcek (guitar) and Marco Giovino (drums) produced the album, with Neal Pawley playing tuba, trombone, mandolin, baritone guitar and lap-steel, Joe Klompus on acoustic and electric bass and Patrick on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Keyboards are added to five tracks by Tom West, ‘Beehive Queen’ Christine Ohlman guests on vocals on one track and Abbie Barrett and Kylie Harris provide backing vocals on several tracks.

The title track provides a strong mid-point to the album with Peter’s searing guitar breaks spread between Patrick’s vocals which appear to be about the birth of his daughter, Patrick trying to offer the new arrival some advice on how to live your life well – a good song with intriguing lyrics and solid backing. At the other extreme “Dirty Old Bed Bug Blues” recounts a brief encounter in NYC with Neal’s trombone adding a ribald touch to the music that suits the lyrics. The band rocks out on tracks like “Chelsea Street” and “Don’t Reach” (where Christine Ohlman adds gritty vocals) but is equally at home on country tunes like “The Judge” which is very Johnny Cash in style and content while “9-5ers” combines a country tune with harmony vocals.

On songs like opener “Heartbeat” and “Keep My Soul” the band adds a moody feel that suits Patrick’s vocal style as he explores some deep issues: “How do I know which way to go? I’m trying to pay the cost without losing my soul”. The closing track “Let It Ring” is a folk piece with acoustic guitar and drummer Marco’s eerie organ and the cover of Leon Russell’s “Magic Mirror” sounds as if Lou Reed has returned to provide the vocal! Despite the title, “Rock When I Roll” is another laid-back tune with lovely piano and harmony vocals and delicate guitar fills from Peter.

Overall there is quite a lot to intrigue the listener but there is not actually a lot of blues content here. However, for those who are open-minded Patrick has produced an album worth hearing (whatever category you put it into).

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