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Tokyo Rosenthal

Love Won Out

Review by Gary Hill

This is a great disc, plain and simple. Tokyo Rosenthal creates a blend of sounds that stay close to the singer/songwriter style of musical vision. At the same time he incorporates enough varying styles to keep it from getting monolithic or boring at all. While there are aspects of this song or that I’m not totally enamored by, there isn’t a single track here I’d consider weak. This is just one of those discs that reaches out and grabs you with no intention of letting go.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
St. Patrick’s Day
There’s a great fuzzy guitar sound that leads this off. The cut takes on a Roy Orbisson sort of element as it drops back for the vocals. The arrangement takes on more layers bringing in more lush textures as it continues. This is a great pop rock song with a lot of retro stylings in the mix. There’s a suitably Celtic tint to some of the guitar lines that weave amidst the later parts of the track and it drops way back to mellower ballad territory for a time before moving back upward.
We Planted Seeds
Celtic music meets folk balladry here. There’s a warbling sound to the vocals that kind of turns me away here, but at its best this reminds me of Gordon Lightfoot. This is much more sedate and organic than the discs opener and has a lot of traditional Celtic (classically tinged) textures. 
Little Poetry Girl
As strong as the last couple cuts were, this one is even better. It’s got a more stripped down texture than the opener and yet it rocks out more than the last one. There’s a bit of a jazz trio feeling to a lot of this, but I also hear plenty of Van Morrison and Roy Orbisson in the mix. That’s an intriguing combination and we even get a little Latin edge. There’s also a killer jazz meets rockabilly guitar solo. I like this a lot. 
Who's to Say What Might Have Been?
Here we get a slow moving (but still rather rock oriented) number that shows off many of the same influences we’ve heard before. This doesn’t differ dramatically from some of the other music, but is a unique piece nonetheless. It’s quite a dramatic and powerful one and I’d consider it a highlight of the disc. 
I Care If You Do
We’re off to the hoedown with this bouncy little folky number. It’s very country western – yeah, both types of music – in its arrangement and delivery. It’s fun and a nice change of pace. We get a fiddle solo on this.
If I Could Draw My Heart
Another folky ballad, this feels to me like a cross between Johnny Cash and Gordon Lightfoot. Still, I also get a bit of a Moody Blues vibe. The arrangement is quite lush and powerful. 
Love Won Out
Here we get a smoking blues treatment. At times this reminds me of Led Zeppelin, but at other points it’s much more “real blues.”
A Word for You
As keyboards start this (not with real melody but more as effects) it feels as if it might launch out into a psychedelic romp. Instead we get a growing folky number. This is energetic and another great tune. 
Random Noises
This is another with a bluesy element to it. Yet the instrumentation floating around the outskirts brings a prog rock meets psychedelic jazz texture. I’d peg this as another highlight of the disc. 
Goodnight Carrie, I'm Coming Home
This slow ballad is pretty and potent. I’m just not sure that it’s a strong enough cut to warrant the closing spot. From a lyrical point of view it’s a perfect choice. There’s enough emotion here to elevate this, but it seems that a more uptempo number would have made the listener more likely to be wanting more at the end.
 
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