Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Review: Kevin Tihista
Kevin Tihista - On This Dark Street (Broken Horse Records)
Kevin Tihista used to be billed with his band "Red Terror', who he made a couple of albums with. You’d perhaps surmise from their name they’d be a riotous sort of act, but it was a misnomer of quite large proportions. 'Achingly poignant from start to finish' is a quote from one review I read, and that sums up what you got from them - no whooping or hollering, no stinging guitar riffs or huge anthems to shake your head to. On his own there is little change, as he presents his songs to his audience with a gentle subtlety, and a hint of shadowy things, which, if you listen carefully, can be heard throughout “On This Dark Street” (check out the lyrics to "Don't Let Him In" - an obvious choice as it reveals its dark side readily - and you’ll see what I mean).
A couple of unlikely artists to compare Tihista to would be Paul Kelly, brought to mind on "N. Carolina", and the late, great Jackie Leven on "Teenage Werewolf". One an Australian, the other a Scotsman, and neither obvious reference points for a songwriter from Chicago by way of San Francisco. Whoever he may or may not sound like, if his songs conjured up these two singer-songwriters, then for me, he must be doing something right. It’s good company he’s keeping here.
On his previous outings I don’t remember strings being part of his musical repertoire, but on "I Heard A Voice" they join in as the three minute mark approaches, providing a marvelous counterpoint to the acoustic guitar on this lovely song. I don't recall hearing animal noises before, either, but closing the album is the jaunty "Country Road", opening as it does with bird chirps, a rooster crowing, sheep bleating, a stream gurgling away, and that’s enough about the one dud on the album. ‘They’ claim it a pop classic, but a pop classic it is not, believe me. Accept the rest, though, as prime singer-songwriter fare.