Tom Dyer has covered a lot of ground with the music he has released on Green Monkey Records. Now with an album under his own name, he strips everything down to the essentials and celebrates the goodness of life while trimming the fat that doesn’t need to be here. He is doing things for himself with the eclectic sounding I Ain’t Blue Anymore.
The entire album is self-contained in that all instruments and vocals were played by Dyer himself, and what you’ll hear is everything from rough rock’n’roll with pinches of folk and sometimes country. Then I’m hearing track #3 and going “why does this remind me of Captain Beefheart? It’s because it’s a Captain Beefheart song, in this case “The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig)” (from the 1970 gem Lick My Decals Off Baby). While some artists want to create their self-contained projects with perfection, Dyer doesn’t mind playing a few off-keys or doing thigns in alternate tunings that simply is there just because he wants to. The instrumental “Pass The Jug” could be something you might expect to hear at a Seattle folk life festival, but something is selling you that it sounds a bit awkward. Then you realize oh, this is Seattle, it can be off and no one will question it.
Every now and then he’ll get a bit bluesy, then things will turn sleazy and sweaty but you’re wondering why you’re dancing. To me, it feels like what an indepedent album should sound like, and that is not caring if it’s indie or trying to catch the ear of a major. Dyer’s own liner notes has him talking about the process of recording and arranging these, along with stories on when (and sometimes where) they were recorded. Some of them have been in existence for decades and he gets into why it wasn’t recorded and released until 2012, or how doing multiple versions of it had him not releasing it until they were revisited. If you’ve been a fan of Dyer’s music over the years, it sounds like a return home and a success story in itself, as in “these songs are finally being heard, share with me the victory in this”.