Blake Thomas sings the way good readers read. He gets personally involved in his story. On his fourth studio album, his resonant baritone feels the fury of love's conflicts ("Fire and Bones") and stops trying to make sense of life's outcomes ("Keeping Score").
Commanding voices create instrumental opportunities and challenges. They require equally deft melodies, or, conversely, musical backing sparse enough to get out of the way. Here, Thomas finds just the right mix. The Madison songwriter blends a brightly curious guitar riff and a wise commentary about the game of life on "Keeping Score." "Cradle to the Ground" uses keyboard to evoke a wandering journey of trials, failures and acceptance.
A gaggle of local players, including Justin Bricco, Jeremiah Nelson, Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines bring finesse to the instrumentation. Frequently, they do the right thing: Sit back and let Thomas work his vocal magic.