Abyssinia, the latest album from Worcestershire musician, Gary Tolley, AKA Garrington T Jones, AKA Gazza Tee, is a collection of nine original songs, one cover and one with a guest singer, masterfully put together to present a compendium of blues, rock, country and new-wave tunes.
Taken individually, each song is good enough to stand on its own merits. Collectively, they sit together to form an album that defies any attempt to force it into a genre pigeon-hole. As you journey through the album it becomes apparent that many of the songs reflect and are inspired by Garrington T Jones’ ongoing love affair with Australia, her landscape, people and culture.
Road Cases – Inspired by a conversation with an extremely well-read roadie in a bar in Cairns, Australia, Road Cases gives us the thoughts of a rock and roll backstage hero travelling between shows, and opens with a suitably rock and roll count down to a foot-tapping drum beat and catchy guitar riff. Mr Jones tells this tale with a mellow, assured voice that reminds this reviewer of 70’s crooner, Mat Monro. This is a good thing.
I Once Had a Girl – The tempo continues with this retrospective love song, a sparky, upbeat tune in the manner of 80’s New Wave Aussie band ‘Men at Work’.
Indian Summer – Mr Jones’ cover of a popular song by 70’s English Art Rock band ‘Audience’. A fabulous rendition of “a fabulous song of hope for those seeking love in the later years of life.”
Chasing Feathers – This catchy instrumental, inspired by two kittens gambolling outside for the first time, has a feel of something you might find on an early Joe Walsh album.
Time – A beautiful, thoughtful song co-written with, and sung by Laura Smith. Time flows like a lazy river on a summer evening and makes you feel better for having listened to it. One of the high points of the album.
Blue Car Blues – Another album high point is Tone Tanner’s Hendrix-esque guitar intro to this barmy 12-bar blues about a Nissan Almera SUV. No attempt at a written description will ever do this song justice. You HAVE to hear it to appreciate it.
Drivin’ Home With The Blues – More Antipodean inspiration with this ode to “Drivin’ Home With The Blues‘ a weekly radio show from Cairns, Queensland, Australia hosted superbly by Irene R. Barrett. A foot-tapping gem that captures that early Friday Night Feeling.
Dust Pneumonia Blues – Anyone who covers a Woodie Guthrie song is alright by me. And Garrington’s version of Dust Pneumonia Blues is a rip-roaring, barnstormer of a tune.
Ain’t Workin’ No More – A lazy, wistful 12-bar blues about stepping out of the rat race and the joy of no longer having to work for “the man”.
Ride – The intro sound effect of a Harley Davidson at full chat sets the tone for this high-octane journey on two wheels along the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Marvellous.
Jacaranda Blue – The perfect final song for any album is one that leaves the listener feeling good, and inspires them to play the album again, and again. This is the perfect final song, and in my opinion the masterpiece of the album. Garrington T Jones’ voice soars over a subtle music arrangement that somehow finds its way into the soul of the listener (any listener with a soul, that is).
Abyssinia is a unique album, which grows in magnitude each time you listen to it