Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Bill Toms and Hard Rain “Deep in the Shadows”

Pittsburgh-based musician Bill Toms has been making a name for himself for a few years now. Once he went solo after spending a few years as guitarist with the band Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Toms created several albums with his own band called Hard Rain. Recently, Bill Toms and Hard Rain celebrated the release of their newest album, 2015’s Deep in the Shadows.

Deep in the Shadows from Bill Toms begins with a slow pace to the music as “I’ve Got No Use (For What You’re Selling Me)” finds Bill and Hard Rain creating a Soul music track with plenty of feeling. The song is the perfect tune to start off the newest release from Toms as the tune features the entire band, including the newly-added Soulville Horns. While the song includes the familiar Bill Toms sound that was present on the previous album of Memphis, it also features a feeling that will remind listeners of something that might have been on the radio back in the sixties. With the different musical flavors to it, the music of the track definitely has a timeless feel to it.

With the next track on the album, the feel of the music changes dramatically. “Till We Meet Again” is a track that brings the piano to the forefront. The piano of Steve “Sudden” Binsberger seems to slow the pace of the music down. Just like “I’ve Got No Use (For What You’re Selling Me),” “Till We Meet Again” finds Bill Toms and the rest of the band creating a track that has a very retro feel to it as the track definitely has a Doo Wop influence to it. Adding to that Doo Wop feel, the lyrics of the song tug at your heart as Toms sings of being away from the person he’s singing to.

Bill Toms and Hard Rain’s newest release of Deep in the Shadows picks up the pace of the next track of “Darkest Side of Town”. The track brings back thoughts of Toms’ previous release of Memphis as the music on the track contains a blistering Blues-Rock sound that may remind some of something from the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughn. The rockin’ feel of the music on the track is helped along the way by the electric guitar that adds a lot of energy to the track. And of course, you cannot forget about Steve Binsberger on keyboards, bassist Tom Valentine, guitarist Will Kimbrough, drummer Bernie Herr, percussionist Rick Witkowski and saxophonist Phil Brontz who help to bring the music on the track to life. With the track being as energetic as it is, the song gave the band the perfect opportunity to jam. The track ends up being one of the shining moments on the new release.

“The Air Feels Like Rain (Paris, 1943)” quickly changes the feel of the album as the pace of the music slows down to a crawl. The track features a very Bluesy feel to it as the music seems to create the atmosphere for the lyrics to the track. And it is the lyrics to the track that are truly the focus on this track. The song ultimately ends up feeling more like a story than it feels like a song. The sing-song delivery of the lyrics from Bill Toms and the slow pace to the music makes the whole track feel like a vignette from a scene in a film noir movie.

The newest release from Bill Toms and Hard Rain picks up the pace of the music on the track “I Ain’t Worried”. The track features a Rock and Roll feel with a little Delta Blues thrown in. The track features lyrics from Toms that look past the bad times and towards the positive of “what could be”. The track adds some positive vibes to the darkness that shows up to some of the earlier tracks on the release.

Picking up where Memphis left off, Deep in the Shadows finds Bill Toms and Hard Rain creating yet another release of music that is solid from the very first note. The various genres of music that add to the sound of the music and the addition of the Soulville Horns help to make the new just as strong as Toms’ last album making it a must hear release.

Click HERE to check out this live version of “Darkest Side of Town” from Bill Toms and Hard Rain.