Kiss on the Wind is the debut album from the very talented Derek Toomey. Toomey grew up in central Louisiana, and describes his album as a "pinch of pop, folk rock and swamp thrown in". The musician's that feature are all great players and really lend something special to the album, helping to create something Toomey should most definitely be proud of. Below is a track-by-track guide to the album.
The first track immediately jumps out of the speakers; 'Oh Yea! (Beautiful Day)' is a happy, folky fiddle-driven record of good times and big dreams. I love the female backing vocals on the choruses; they sit brilliantly behind Toomey's great tone and really add something special to the mix. The drums are busy, demonstrating a really tight funky groove which feels almost latin in places. There's a great country feel on the electric guitar, and the whole track reminds me of Sugarland; a really happy and positive outset to the record.
Second out of the blocks is 'Alice Jane', with it's immediately infectious driving acoustic guitar and drum pattern giving way to down and dirty low vocals telling a cool story, reminding me of Jace Everett. The chorus is simple yet memorable, cementing the track in a real dingy blues club. The underlaid electric guitar work is subtely brilliant, and I love the call and response solos between the fiddle and the acoustic guitar.
The title track, Kiss on the Wind, is definitely a stand-out of the album and rightly deserves it's title-track status. "Happiness is just a kiss on the wind, pass it on and it will find you again" tells us all we need to know about this grooving track; I'm used to the cool fiddles and slide guitar by now and the drums sound great on this track. I felt the track lacked slightly at the end - finishing on a low rather than a high - as I felt the whole track was building and building towards a big finish but don't let that take anything away from the song.
'On and On and On' dims the lights and changes course, taking a much needed step in a slower and gentler direction. This track is just really nice, there's no other way to describe it; the passion in Cindi Hall's voice is perfect and the composition is wonderful with Toomey sharing the vocals. The verses establish themselves with a rim-shot and really careful acoustic guitar work; the candles are most definitely lit now and I'm really listening to this song. It has presented itself to me as a great love song with a really cool ballad feel and the layered vocals at the end with the shaker cap it off beautifully. A real treat.
'Stuff' doesn't let me sit back for too long, but doesn't hit me like a freight train which is perfect; you don't go from lying down into a sprint and it's slowly helping me to my feet with a really great tempo for a track after a ballad. If you're not digging this song there can't be much feeling inside of you; my head is really getting into this one, nodding away as I type. I love Toomey's song-writing and this track shows it off in all it's greatness.
Tribal drums greet me at the beginning to 'Footprints in the Water' and, although the vocals feel a little weaker in this song, again it's all about the feel and Toomey has got this nailed to a tee. He's really captured the essence of the song and bottled a whole load of feeling. The drums are the stand-out performance of this track; they're different to what we've heard up to now and drive the track in a really lazy way. I wanted a really huge wheeling guitar solo and so was a little disappointed when I felt I was being led into one, and think this would have really added the much-needed finishing touch to this track.
'Jesse' is an interesting and quirky song in the latter stage of the album. I find myself really listening to the lyrics; the vocals have got a lot of space at the beginning and I want to hear the story unfold. As soon as the electric guitar comes in in verse two I'm sold; the scratchy chug is a tease at the beginning and I almost feel like that's all I'm getting until the licks come out and really show us what we've been missing. This song lifts me back up and leads the listener into a faster-countrified tempo with a great marriage of blues-rock guitar, although it does end a little abruptly.
'In God's Eyes and Mine' is, on it's own, quite a nice song, but feel it is the weakest within the context of an album. There are some great passages of playing; I like the gentle approach each instrument has taken when performing it's respective part but the track didn't strike me much whilst embedded by stronger songs.
No faith is lost yet though, as 'Paupers Grave' promises another busy country-rock sound. The drums really know when to play and, more importantly, when not to be smacking the snare and instead sitting back waiting for the right moment, demonstrating a really cool knowledge of the building of a song. Toomey's vocals are almost Springsteen-esque; I'm thinking of his acoustic record 'Devils and Dust' and I love Hall's harmonies on this song. The fiddle shouts 'remember me' and I certainly do; it's once again the icing on the cake.
'Evangeline' is something different once again which is what's great about this album in general; it's unpredictable and doesn't pigeon-hole itself. The blues are only remembered perhaps in the vocals and with the most subtle of guitar licks rarely in the background, but folk's taking centre stage here with the extrememly cool and underrated accordion. It fits the feel of the song perfectly and I'd challenge anyone to listen to this song without stamping their foot.
Reading the sleeve notes, I get the feeling that 'Happy Cry' strikes a chord with Toomey, a nod to someone close loved and lost, but never forgotten. The track itself crawls along nicely, showing off the talent of the musician's enlisted on this record. I love the slide guitar and the highs and lows of this track; it's a rollercoaster in more ways than one, rising and falling at a great pace. And as the distant drones of slide guitar and cymbal hang on for as long as they dare before fading into the abyss, the album ends. And it couldn't have been more beautifully.
To find out more about Derek Toomey or to purchase the CD (besides on iTunes, CD Baby, Digstation and more), please visit his website or Myspace page.