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By Terry Martinson, Contributor
Wednesday, July 6, 2022 @ 1:19 PM

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RatPak Records

Well I’ll be darned. The last thing that was entering my thought process was a new Ty Tabor release. I mean I am, nor never will be mad at anything he or the rest of the KING'S X camp release, and with Ty’s history it would only be a matter of time before a new KING'S X, side project or solo release was issued, but I do digress.

For those unfamiliar with Ty, he is an amazing guitarist, songwriter and vocalist and most notably known for being 1/3rd of the most critically underrated and seemingly underappreciated bands in history, KING'S X. Unless of course you 1, appreciate awesome music or 2, are a musician. I have seen a number of local and renown musicians at KING'S X shows singing at the top of their lungs along like their life depended on it. Now as an aside from the lengthy KING'S X discography Ty is no newbie to side projects nor solo albums, Shades being his 11th! Yes, incredibly prolific he is, as are Dug and Jerry who, like Ty, seem to practice their “ABC” of “always be creating”.

On topic, let's take a dive, not unlike Mr. Mustachio on the album's cover, into Shades and talk shop.

Not unlike any Ty solo release, Shades is on par and there is no filler here. Prepare to be impressed and even though Ty is a guitarist, a dang proficient one at that, this record is not a collection of noodlings and a shredfest. I am certain Ty could accommodate that, but to me Ty always seems a songwriter first and then guitar/vocalist or vocalist/guitarist. And of course that guitar tone! My word, so easily recognizable, heavy and just fat and juicy and saccharine sweet.

The album, for me, plays through like a KING'S X album, duh, but one that marries the influences of say ENUFF Z'NUFF, and REDD KROSS, THE ALARM and then some mid 90’s rock bands like BETTER THAN EZRA and the GIN BLOSSOMS. A massive Butch Walker vibe eminates from Shades as well and that just may be the similarities in Ty and Butch as guitarists, guitarist who play extermely competently, write equally proficiently and sing, well fine to boot. Ty’s playing, songwriting and vocal stylings lend themselves to the throwback stylings of these artists and seem to be a sweet spot for Ty, and a comfortable place to snuggle into for the listener as there isn’t a song on Shades that would be described as anything other than pleasurable. The album runs the grommet of rock n roll sub genres, anchored in the aforementioned ethereal pseudo psychedelic pop rock and then dables into the various tempo’s of up, mid and borderline balladry. I get some countrified singer songwriter and a few that teeter on KING'S X b-sides.

“Come Home” kicks things off with its Bryan Adams or Eddie Money inspired baseline riff that lends itself to the anthemic “come home” chorus. One could easily see this in an arena setting with the lights up and 30k screaming fans singing along in unison. The solo has this repetitive lick towards its end that sounds simple, but the truth would be it's not and Ty is just brilliant at making something sound effortless, when it would break us mere mortals.

“Shallow” has a dirty, yet sing songy COLLECTIVE SOUL vibe about it that is a bit grungy in the opening and chorus riffs but gets all cleaned up for going to town during the verse. The line where Ty sings, the water line is low. I checked it with my toe, the lake has gotten shallow” is just one of a number of catchy and highly quotable lines in"Shallow".

“Your Fantasy” reminds so very much of ASIA’s "Heat of The Moment", at least in the verses, one could easily hear ‘and now you find yourself in ‘82 a disco hearthrob…’ and the solo is simply special. So on point, simple yet I could never emulate it and saturated with emotion, feeling, simply stunning and the fade on the last note with what sounds like white noise/amp effects is surreal to say the least. A real cool touch.

“What You’re Thinking” reminds me so very much of a good amount of the Butch Walker catalogue, very modern, yet retro, catchy as anything and as cleverly crafted as nothing much else you’ll hear, unless your looking for the top shelf music, that unfortunately the masses miss on, but us fans of artists such as Ty clamor for. This ones certainly a favorite as Ty’s solos herein are tasteful, complimenting one of his better vocal performances and the chorus, oof, well done.

“Sister Genocide” sneaks in with an effect saturated vocal and a heavier detuned lead riff that although not deviating far from the status quo of Shades has a different vibe than the previous tracks, maybe its more of KING'S X tune, but with Ty singing its entirety. Regardless it's a nice number and again the solo is typical to Ty’s style.

“Best Day In A While”, although according to many online tangents was driven by a family member's passing, is an interesting spin on a sorrowful situation. Taking the event and making a memorial spin by recalling some fond memories that dovetail into the chorus “Best Day In A While”. Smart songwriting again and just further details why Ty should be placed in higher regards, but I suppose having him as a secret works for me. And the outro with it’s “best day I had in a while… Dad'', is a downright tearjerker. Thanks for writing this mesmerizing and heartfelt song.

“Insane” is a mid tempo rocker that reminded me of something Ace Frehely would have written or sung on his solo records, at least in the chorus. The rest of the songs arrangements are way too complex for Ace, no rub, just facts. This one's real short and gets in and out quick, but still memorable as the chorus is infectious.

“One Drop Of Water” begins with a similar themed finger picked riff very akin to many mid 90’s alt rock bands that progresses to just guitar and singing and then the band comes back in for the chorus. This one is a border line ballad, very low tempo, think "Hunger Strike" minus the big screaming payoff.

“Doesn’t Linger” so very much reminds me of a Teddy Geiger song, if Ted was a big KING'S X fan, which he probably is. The song is another mellower number with a real nifty solo and the “La La’s” are as nice a touch as the bass dive going out of the verse into the chorus.

“Leaves Falling Down” sounds quite modern with its emo-esque main riff that morphs into a sing-song verse that is quite infectious. Reminds me something FALL OUT BOY might do if Ty wrote them songs and of course if Ty played lead as the solo is slamming and again that signature tone, my word, so huge yet refined and then wild as a wombat.

“Ashes” is another mellow, surreal-sounding song that falls a little flat for me. Not into the way Ty is singing this one and unfortunately it's arrangement is not memorable. I’d like to see Ty speed this one up and take another swing at it.

“Political Nonsense” comes in with the chorus, a mid tempo affair that segues into a nice sing-songy riff driven “It’s Love” inspired verse. I’d like to re-arrange this one and again maybe goose it up a itch in the tempo department as the pieces are there it just seems to drone a bit.

“Ashes”, the acoustic version closes the album and unfortunately it's not that far removed from the non acoustic version as the tempos are the same, this one is just sans the drums and the electric bits. Unfortunately this one doesn't resonate for me. Maybe if the electrified version of "Ashes" was uptempoed and rocked your face off then this version might be more impactful.

My favorites are “Come Home”, “Shallow”, “Your Fantasy” and “What Your Thinking” with “Best Day In A While" garnering honorable mention. All in all this release is a fine addition to one’s completist catalog of Ty/KING'S X material, but maybe an EP would have suited me best for this release. Even though I can’t complain as I sit, listen and wax ecstatic on other's musical contributions instead of doing it myself. Maybe one day and then Ty you can do the first review.

3.0 Out Of 5.0


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