Tom Gillam – Live, Somewhere in America: Play Loud, Dig Deep

Tom Gillam is a name that I first became familiar with back in the summer of 2001 courtesy of Mattson Rainer repeatedly spinning Gillam’s “Dallas” on KNBT. Since that time, Gillam has been adopted as an honorary Texan and toured through Texas as often as possible.
This album, Live, Somewhere in America: Play Loud…Dig Deep is the result of that road-dog mentality. Unlike many live projects, this one was recorded over many nights, not the standard one or two. You will find no overdubs on this disc, a fact that Gillam humorously and proudly attests to in the liner notes by stating “ …this is what it sounded like. We fixed none of our mistakes in the studio. Which might be a mistake.”

Don’t worry Tom, it was most definitely not a mistake. The energy and sound leaps out of the speakers on this live set. To give listeners unfamiliar with Tom’s music a baseline of what to expect, I’d compare it to Bob Seger belting out Americana tinged blues rock at some roadside dive in the Hill Country after arriving there on a Harley. This is aggressive alt-country rock. Normally, when I have to throw the rock tag on alt-country it can mean the lyrics are afterthoughts for the band I’m describing. That is not the case with this album or Gillam’s canon in general.

Cranked out by a flawless five piece band, the tunes on this album are strong examples of Americana at its best. Gillam’s voice is surprisingly spry and versatile. Like Clark Kent going into a phone booth, Gillam manages to change his performance style on each track depending on what is called for from his pen. This is a fun live record if you’re looking for something that will seem familiar yet fresh.

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

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