Trey Forbes can’t be confined to one genre on new Blue Shades album
Trey Forbes is an interesting fellow. Part musician, part philosopher; in a career that has so far spanned 34 years, Trey has written and recorded five albums and created a small library of musings on life, the universe and everything.
He isn’t interested in money, only in spreading the tenets of love and collective spirituality. To that end he makes all of his music (and written thoughts) available free of charge through his website, treyforbes.com.
His music might be broadly defined as “adult contemporary,” keeping in mind that a lot of ground is covered within the genre and within Trey’s work. The album he sent for review, Blue Shades, is a fine example of that diversity, encompassing folk, country, rock-n-roll, psychedelia, and new wave.
There’s quite a bit of excellent guitar work, a portion of which is handled by Trey himself, while contributing artists Tom Cramer and Bob Chuckrow provide the rest.
The first track, “It’s True,” has the unmistakable flavor of James Taylor, both lyrically and vocally, with perhaps a dash of John Denver added to the mix. This is immediately followed by “Edge Walker,” a song that could be country/western or it could be “dark” folk with its broody minor sound and unaffected vocals.
If it didn’t have such a nice bounce to it, it could easily be one of Marty Robbins’ murder ballads, although in this case the subject matter is about “walkin’ the line between feelin’ good and lookin’ fine.”
Not going to say much about “Black Haired Love” except that the descending chord pattern is downright Robyn Hitchcock. “A Measure of Love,” whether intentional or not, has a great deal in common with a few British Isle folk songs I happen to like very much. Arpeggiated and rapidly changing chords make it a fun listen. There’s even a basic similarity to Tom Lehrer’s “The Irish Ballad” (rickety-tickety-tin.)
“Coffee Shop Girl” is a lovely paean to small-town life and pure Americana. A genuinely dreamy little tune, it isn’t hard to imagine that Jerry Garcia and David Grisman would have covered it. “The Language in Your Mind” shifts gears significantly, heading in the direction of harder-edged, heavily distorted rock.
“Undefined” is a darker tune, once again driven by arpeggiation and some very atmospheric keyboards. Somewhere between Nick Cave and Metallica, it is one of the more unexpected treats on the album.
“Back Home” is another departure from the larger themes of the album, in that it is practically an industrial tune, replete with “transistorized” vocals, a maniacal rhythmic riff and minimalist lead parts. “Lonely Like a Fool” and “River of Sadness” take yet another turn, this time into early R.E.M. territory. “Distant Kiss” caps off the album and reminds me of nothing so much as the early ’90s alt scene. It’s a nice finish to an album full of different (but not disparate) themes and influences.
Forbes is currently partnered with guitarist Kent Gill in preparation for some in-town gigs after the Christmas season. The duo is planning on a series of smaller, quieter, intimate shows and part of the plan is to use these as a distribution point for free hard copies of all five Forbes albums.
As interesting as Forbes’ music is, the extensive philosophical ponderings found on his website are equally interesting and thought-provoking. See them now at treyforbes.com