erasing clouds

Bill Fox, One Thought Revealed

review by dave heaton

If the flood of ‘90s memories returning to the spotlight keeps bringing with it beloved, almost forgotten names like that of Bill Fox, we’re all going to be OK. Of course, Fox isn’t exclusively a ‘90s figure, as before his ‘90s solo career there was his ‘80s band the Mice, cult favorites from Cleveland, Ohio. He is an atypical hero to pin any decade on, actually; his music is in more of an out-of-time vein.

Fox’s solo albums, now three in number, contain folk music, with the same taste for pop melody as in the Mice’s fuzz-rock, but a taste for the sound of a lone voice and an acoustic guitar. It taps into the roots of American (and by relation British) folk music and at the same time into history, philosophy and elemental tales of humans at their most primitive in action. “Existence”, one song on One Thought Revealed is titled, and that’s the essential topic here, whether it’s manifested in creation and apocalypse fables or sad love ballads.

Clearly a Dylan fan, he can go on poetic rambles, like with the slightly surreal “Moonlight Staggers on a Lonesome Toe”. “The best things in life are loud”, he sings on that song, and indeed there is a punk spirit here, one aided not limited by his huskier voice. The songs have a weathered feel, not just from his voice but the songs and their words, whether he’s playing the traveler and singing what he observes, like on the mostly hopeful “Round the World” or the more apocalyptic “Wreck of Mind”.

The songs can get quite mystical, while also feeling like leather and dirt. One of my favorite moments is when he’s singing a lot of big words and images on “When Darkened Skies Flash Out a Portent”, and then gets to the real point: “then you’ll be making love to me”. That song also has multiple sax solos and the line “I’ll be singing songs to thee”. The ‘90s, surely not!


this month's issue
about erasing clouds

Copyright (c) 2012 erasing clouds