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Tokyo Rosenthal

This Minstrel Life

Review by Gary Hill

I've been reviewing Tokyo Rosenthal music for quite some time now. His brand of roots music meets singer/songwriter sounds is always compelling. It's often a lot of fun, too. This new set features a number of studio creations followed by some live recordings dating back as far as 2012. The combination of live and studio really brings an interesting flavor to this. It's a worthy entry into the Tokyo Rosenthal catalog for certain.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hundred Mile Man
Folk music, Americana and some country all mix together on this number. There is a lot of energy and a real classic vibe to the piece. It's quite effective and a strong opener. The violin really adds a lot to the piece.
This Minstrel Life
I really love this song. It is such a slice of life kind of tune. The folk stylings are classic. This feels like something that would have been at home in the 1970s for certain.
The Last Seder
A much mellower cut, this is so pretty. It's an intimate number that works exceptionally well. Interestingly enough, Rosenthal has recently released a book with the same title.
Now I Believe There's a Devil
More playful, this has a lot of old school country in the mix. This cut has some accordion in the mix. I'm not a fan of that instrument, but it works pretty well here. Part of the lyrics on this one are in Spanish, and there is a bit of a Tejano music feeling to this. The number fits well within the politically conscious, protest wing of folk music.
Wiregrass
This is so strong. It's not a huge change from the first couple tunes. It just has a killer mood and texture. The violin is a real game-changer on this piece, too. It brings some serious magic.
The Immigrant Revisited

The Latin stylings on this are on the mellower end of the spectrum. This is another political cut. It has some entertaining guitar work, too.

Live:
            
Mama Tried

Recorded in 2015 with The Sap Brothers, this has an old school country folk sound. It's a fun tune.

Little Poetry Girl
This live recording is from 2014. It's recorded with Manguss. This is a bit jazzy. It's energized and strong. I think I like this one better than the last tune. Part of that is the recording seems a bit cleaner. The guitar solo is so tasty, too.
There Is No Perfect Love
An energized folk styled tune, this is another strong piece. It was recorded in 2012 with Charlie Chamberlain. Chamberlain provides some killer soloing on mandolin.
Love Won Out
Recorded in 2015 with Kieran O'Malley, this studio version of this was the title track of Rosenthal's second album. The spoken story-based intro on this is funny, but also quite telling about the political climate in America. An old-time, down home bluesy meets country vibe drives this cut. This is a fun number and a great way to end the set.
 
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