With this in mind, what makes Tom Skinner’s self-titled album work so beautifully is that it’s chock-full of sincerity — and real sincerity, not manufactured.
Sounding like the perfect soundtrack to driving Oklahoma back roads in the summer — windows down, radio way too loud — Skinner evokes shades of alt-roots artists Tom Russell, Greg Trooper and classic John Hiatt, right from the first heartbreakingly upbeat track.
“Hollis” is a bittersweet ode to the Oklahoma town of the same name, while “I Love This Game” is a sweet tribute to minor-league ballplayers that had me breaking out the Kleenex and Cracker Jack. “Light of This World” is a country hymn powerful enough to get your ass back in church, while his cover of Hoyt Axton’s “Gypsy Moth” is pure heaven.
Tom Skinner is a beyond solid album; it’s a return to form, not formula, for a genre that’s been usurped for far too long. And I mean that with total sincerity. —Louis Fowler