I’ll make a little confession here as a lifelong fan of country music. I don’t own any cowboy boots, nor do I think I will ever want to. I know, I’m exactly the big city cretin that country musicians can so coolly mock. I don’t even own one measly cowboy hat or one weary acoustic guitar filled with a secret liquor to drink away my forlorn songs. I’m not much of a devotee in the open at all. I’m one of those great many secret country music fans living lives far away from Nashville and the South as a whole. One of the frightened masses who can’t find the conviction to crusade for their Willie Nelson love, or their Johnny Cash idolatry in the day-to-day bustle of city life.
Even worse I’m not even really a southern man, and I don’t know what it truly means to live in the open expanses of the American heartland. I’ve been, and will probably always be, a city fairing person. But when I drive along the Rocky Mountains on my daily commute home, in the shadows of the mountain at dusk, listening to the crushing pain of Cash on American Recordings, or the world weary croons of Tammy Wynette, I can feel like I am, that I am in touch with the word I know nothing about. Wasn’t that country music’s greatest virtue? Sharing Southern escapism and struggle with the world, without pretense?
And when it comes to country music as a form of escapism, and Southern expression, few modern songwriters understand it as much as Tom Proctor. As a man deeply embroiled in the world of Hollywood as both an actor and stunt performer– you might recognize him from movies like Django Unchained and Guardians of the Galaxy, or shows like True Detective– Tom understands the power of narrative. He understands storytelling and the power of taking your audience somewhere where they could never go on their own. On his new album Working Manhe does just that, shooting shots of empty horizons and disintegrating roads. Telling stories of bikers and melancholic escape. He plays to conventional Southern tropes without the cynicism of a pop country star trying to sell the working man for everything he’s got, but as a storyteller trying to give the working man every credit he deserves.
Playing music that mines the tried and true sounds of southern rock and country, Working Man understands that the southern escape isn’t about re-inventing the wheel or challenging the form, it’s about the earnesty of the words, and the melodies you create. Like the forlorn descent of “Delete You”, or the anthemic rise of “Son Of An Outlaw”, Tom Proctor makes big statements inside the traditional word he orbits. And while the growing pains of a new artist are hard to ignore, in the sometimes lacking compositions of his bare bones ballads, the strength of it’s convictions can carry it through. Working Man is a confident step for Tom Proctor into a conversation that has existed long before him, one that is desperate for artists to carry it’s torch.