Tom House

A poet who has been a published writer since his teens (he edited and published the journal raw bone in the 1980s), House's 1997 debut The Neighborhood Is Changing is an interesting, refreshing blend of traditional country, folk and quirky modern singer/songwriting. Members of the weird Nashville country-avant-rock band Lambchop help out with the production and music, but House is far less satirical than Lambchop, though hardly normal. He sings in a wracked, twangy voice that verges on, but never crosses the line to, neurosis; his songs keep an unremittingly unpredictable sense of meter and time that often varies within the song; and the compositions, though dealing with some conventional country topics like romance and loss, use words that are bolder and angrier than the standard clichés in both commercial country and folk singer/songwriting. He came to the music marketplace late in life, though he put out a couple of cassettes before The Neighborhood Is Changing, in addition to writing a song cycle and opera based on works by William Faulkner. This White Man's Burden followed in 1998. ~ Richie Unterberger

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