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A Journal Of The Plague Year

Tom Rapp

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Album Review

Being his first album in over 25 years, it would have been altogether excusable had Tom Rapp re-emerged being a little rusty. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as Rapp has created a very satisfying set of haunting, slightly surreal folk ballads. Understated beauty saturates tracks like "The Swimmer (For Kurt Cobain)," which is highlighted by a splendidly plucked harp that echoes Rapp's fingerpicked guitar and harmonica. "Blind" definitely has a Dylanesque quality to it, as many songs on the album do, and Rapp uses vivid imagery to color his dreamlike narrations. Haunting chord progressions that bring to mind the best work of Cat Stevens turn up on "Space," and there are excellent violin and mandolin touches on "Hopelessly Romantic." Possibly the most vibrant statement on Rapp's return is the ten-minute, three-part epic "Shoebox Symphony," which was adapted from a tape found in a shoebox that was left over from his days with Pearls Before Swine. The piece passes through straightforward folk-rock to frightening psychedelic elements before it is seemingly spliced to an old children's folk song. All in all, Rapp has definitely returned with his artistic vision intact, and having created such an impressive returning statement, one hopes he doesn't wait another 25 years before recording another.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '90s

Singer, composer, and cult icon Tom Rapp, the mastermind behind psychedelic folk band Pearls Before Swine, was born in Bottineau, ND in 1947. After writing his first song at age six, he began performing at local talent shows, and as a teen, bested a young Bob Dylan at one such event. Upon relocating to Melbourne, FL, Rapp formed Pearls Before Swine in 1965, recording a demo which he then sent to the ESP-Disk label; the company quickly signed the group, and they soon traveled to New York to record...
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A Journal Of The Plague Year, Tom Rapp
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