Tommy Larkin is a unique musician. His songs capture his uniqueness, drawing his time spent in the military, and the kind of mental and emotional anguish that comes from experiencing war first hand. Although these qualities add an interesting layer a trivia to Larkin’s latest release, Truth in Anger, they do not totally define him; Tommy Larkin is not solely a political songwriter. One of Larkin’s strengths as a songwriter is his ability to deal with politically charged topics in a grounded, unpretentious voice. Larkin never preaches, but instead uses his experiences to tap into something universally emotional.
On “Typing and Cussing,” Truth in Anger’s opening track, Larkin asserts himself as a blues-rock loyalist. The guitars aren’t pristine and the percussion isn’t mechanically in time, but they’re not supposed to be. This music is about emotion, not precision, and Tommy Larkin’s got a lot of it. “Something Happened,” continues to build on human emotion, chronicling the struggles of war and acknowledging the fact that, “some won’t make it back.” The song opens with a sample from a telephone call between a couple in which a man explains to his wife that “something happened”; this seemingly small touch adds greatly to the song’s emotional weight
Perhaps the most intriguing set of tracks on Truth in Anger is the five part “The Meaner You Are the Nicer I Get.” Each installment of this song contains nothing more than a few lines sung over twinkling, staccato piano notes. These short pieces help to give Truth an overarching theme, as well as break up up the longer, louder tracks.
As was stated in the beginning of this review, Tommy Larkin is a unique musician. There really isn’t any way of describing him in concrete terms. He’s got the quirky, lo-fi tendencies of a young Daniel Johnston, and the blues roots of De Stijl-era White Stripes, but Larkin still retains his own, stylized sound: and isn’t that the mark of a truly interesting musician?