What the Hell Is Goin’ On?

[Perpetual Obscurity]

 Its title comes from one of the songs contained in this set of covers, but Paul Thorn has earned such a reputation for his own singular, sometimes autobiographical material that its existence might well provoke the titular question from fans. What’s going on, according to Thorn himself, is simply an effort to paint beyond his usual palette. The results turn out to be as idiosyncratic as the albums typically wrought by Thorn’s own pen, spanning a diverse array of sources that includes some you might expect (Elvin Bishop, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Donnie Fritts) and some you might not (Eli Reed, Free, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks). He renders these tunes through variants of his trademark swampy blues mix, throwing in an occasional bit of gospelized Muscle Shoals or electric blues to boot. A covers album will never be a substitute for Thorn’s original creative voice, but he still manages to make it all sound remarkably like a Paul Thorn record. –Stuart Munro

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