Terry Penney’s latest release, Town That Time Forgot, is a blend of contemporary folk, roots, blues, country and rock and roll. Throughout the album, Penney transports the listener to another time, many decades ago when Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley were still alive making hits and leaving their marks on the music scene. Whether he is singing vividly about WWI over 90 years ago in “Benny Brown,” or an uncertain life in “Plan B,” Penney intrigues the listener, begging him to continue on his journey.
“A Place To Hide” begins Town That Time Forgot with crickets chirping, dogs barking and the sound of footsteps in the background before a guitar enters. “I’m bones and loneliness, I’ve been gone so long/Locked up in a prison cell for someone else’s wrong,” Penney sings. With catchy, memorable vocals throughout his tale, “A Place To Hide” has a classically rootsy folk feel.
Telling a story of an innocent man sent to jail for six years, the accompanying music is eerie and makes the listener wonder what will unfold next in the song. “I can hear Hank Williams’ ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’/Drifting through your kitchen on the smell of apple pie/I need to know you believe that I have nothing to admit/I never could have done those dreadful things they said I did.”
“A Place To Hide” is just a glimpse into the remainder of the album. While many pop culture references abound, history lessons also encompass much of Penney’s release. The album’s title track starts off as an acoustic ballad with Penney’s comforting vocals blending well with the accompanying music.
“Thanks For Everything” segues to more of an old school rock and roll vibe intertwined with a laid-back country feel. In fact, what is Penney’s biggest attribute is how he switches gears completely from one track to the next. From heart wrenching ”Be A Better Man” to soulful and bluesy, “Buddy Holly Blues,” Penney keeps the listener on his toes. Taking inspiration from the late Buddy Holly, the track is the perfect tribute.
“Benny Brown” is a descriptive tale reassessing a battle with the Germans during WWI. While it is questionable how accurate the portrayal may be, it is the job of a songwriter to paint a picture through his music and this is what Penney does, and does well, not only throughout “Benny Brown” but the entirety of Town That Time Forgot.
Somber and heartbreaking, “Be A Better Man” is another example of Penney’s versatility. “I used to like who I was/I had a place and a plan/I used to want so many things/I want to be a better man” Penney sings. “Well I fight with my wife/She’s taken all that she can/I don’t know why I’m the way that I am/I want to be a better man,” he continues. With fitting harmonica and acoustic guitar he aptly gets his point across.
Highlight of the album is upbeat track “Buddy Holly Blues.” Penney takes the listener back to the Buddy Holly era sampling parts of Holly’s music throughout his guitar playing. Definitely the most rock and roll track of the record, Penney’s talent is evident here in his adaptation and tribute to Holly.
Whether it’s singing ballads about WWI veterans or fugitives, one thing is certain, Terry Penney will be around for a while. His music is timeless and his descriptive stories a rare and unique find in today’s music industry. With such a standout release, I can only wonder what the next record will bring.
You can read this review, originally posted on ReviewYou.com. For more on Terry Penney, visit his MySpace.