Americana singer, songwriter and guitarist, Russ Tolman has been confounding expectations from the start, following his own unique path, all the while with a knowing nod, tugging on our coats, inviting us to come along. It has always been a pleasing, worthwhile suggestion.
With his eighth album, Goodbye El Dorado, Tolman wistfully, but with a clear, critical eye examines his homeland from afar, penning his „love letter to Los Angeles“ without acrimony and with the clarity of distance. He was half a world away in Osaka, Japan and the miles provided a prism of certitude.
From his gunslinging days in the seminal 80’s twin guitar chainsaw band True West throughout a varied, exceptional solo career, Tolman’s strengths as a singer-songwriter are on full display here. From the everyday laments of time melting away on the 405 freeway to the personal musings over the intimate, familial travails of having your hopes and dreams running headlong into reality. Heady stuff you say? No doubt.
Dispatching these emotional adventures with his usual wisecracking aplomb, Tolman enlists some familiar musical samurai, along with some new ronin to expand the colors of his burgeoning musical palette. Multi-instrumentalist Robert Lloyd (Steve Wynn, Nels Cline, Wesley Stace) caressingly picks a mandolin, tickles the ivories and delightfully offers the plush inflections of his accordion, painting Tolman’s House of Melody with a fresh coat of satisfying color. Long-time six-string comrade Kirk Swan (Dumptruck, Amy Rigby) swings as usual with an insouciant groove, handsomely propelling the overall sentiment with taste and verve. Veteran Kevin Jarvis takes a double dip, serving as both engineer and drummer, providing pivotal experience from his previous work with Lucinda Williams, Grant Lee Phillips, and Brian Wilson. Cindy Wasserman (John Doe Band, Dead Rock West) provides glowing, elegant backing vocals and Tolman vet Dave Provost (Dream Syndicate, Al Green) anchors the bottom with his Motown tinctured bass guitar, while Tom Heyman contributes his potent pedal steel sheen. Newcomer Slim Zwerling offers his trumpet and flugelhorn, providing a yummy Bacharach zest, adding new flavors to Tolman’s soulful gumbo. Drop in a healthy dollop of Tolman’s seasoned, silky honeycomb vocals
and the results are a golden treasure.
Recorded in Los Angeles and mixed in Osaka, Goodbye El Dorado drops April 19. Russ Tolman has returned to the States, his boots are polished and he’s saddled up for another ride. Look around and climb on! It’s goodbye El Dorado, hello world.
The first pressing of Goodbye El Dorado contains the bonus disc Compass & Map, a 20-song retrospective of Russ Tolman’s seven solo albums, spanning the years 1986-2013.