Thorn, set for show here, puts his touch on favorites

2013-02-07T00:00:00Z Thorn, set for show here, puts his touch on favoritesGerald M. Gay Ggay@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
February 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Paul Thorn gave his writing arm a rest when creating his latest release, "What the Hell is Goin' On?"

For his 10th album, the Americana musician relied on the creative juices of others to get things done.

The recording, released last year on Perpetual Obscurity Records, includes 12 songs, all penned by some of Thorn's favorite artists.

He opens with Lindsey Buckingham's "Don't Let Me Down Again" and includes the track "Walk in My Shadow" from Free's 1969 debut album "Tons of Sobs."

The title track is a rollicking Elvin Bishop tune that bemoans the problems and evils of the modern world.

"I liked it the minute I heard it," Thorn said in a phone interview last week from the road. "It really spoke about the time we are living in. The world is all messed up right now. 'What the Hell' describes that condition."

Thorn, who plays Club Congress Sunday, has long been heralded for his original songwriting. The soulful Southern roots-rocker's repertoire is one that he has built upon since taking up music full time in the late 1990s.

He decided to create an album of covers to answer a common question that he said he hears often on the road.

"Everybody is always asking me what kind of music I like, who I listen to," he said. "I just wanted to have some fun. I wanted to do a record of songs I liked to get away from myself for a little bit."

Thorn's musical selections for the release ran the gamut, with colorful tracks coming from obscure folk acts and major players in blues and rock.

The tune, "Snake Farm," penned by Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, sings of a promiscuous woman named Ramona who spends her days working at a supposed strip club called The Snake Farm.

"Ray is one of my favorite songwriters," Thorn said. "He paints a real vivid picture when you hear his lyrics. You can see it in your mind when he is telling a story."

The song "Bull Mountain Bridge," written by country singer Wild Bill Emerson, is a tale of violent revenge, and features Delbert McClinton on vocals.

Thorn said the man who schooled him in music, Billy Maddox, was a protégé of Emerson's.

"It was a way to tip my hat to where everything I do sprang from," Thorn said.

Thorn said the pressure was off for this release. He loved being able to put his own twist on some of his favorite music.

"That was the fun part," Thorn said. "It would have been a challenge trying to do it the way they do it. I didn't have to worry about making it sound like them. I made it sound like me."

If you go

• What: Paul Thorn Band in concert.

• When: 6 p.m. Sunday.

• Where: Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

• Cost: $18 in advance. $20 day of show through Hotel Congress, 622-8848.

• Information: rhythmandroots.org

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