Slo’ Tom and the Handsome Devils released their fourth full-length album, “Down in a Government Town,” last week. The album is deals with some of the trials and tribulations of living in a city like Ottawa, executed with hilarity and fantastic songwriting. Tom Stewart, the band’s frontman, is a fixture in the Ottawa music scene: player in bands, writer of columns, fixer of amps. He’s played in some of Ottawa’s legendary bands, like Furnaceface, Hey Buster, and Manpower. And who are those Handsome Devils? They’re Jon “Killer” Kiely, Rob “Chops” Snasdell-Taylor, and Rey Sabatin who have played in the likes of The John Henrys, Neanderthal Sponge & King Kung. Slo’ Tom writes bonafide country hits performed with jangly harmonies and twangy guitar. The album features top notch musicianship, catchy tunes, and hilarious lyrical and musical quips. It’s just so much fun to listen to. With songs like “Kissing in Prison” Slo’ Tom is asking the hard questions: is there spooning in the cellblocks? Everyone needs a cuddle. “Down in a Government Town” is full of great little diddies, hilarious lyrics, and is musically tongue in cheek.
The only ode to budget flooring I know of, “Linoleum Floor” is a nearly touching, traditional country ballad with heartfelt harmonies, singing mandolin, with a very important lesson: “keep yourselves true to those you adore / beware what you spill on your linoleum floor.”
“It’s a Condo Now” may be Slo’ Tom’s answer to Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”, lamenting the transformation of our urban neighbourhoods. But instead of paving over paradise, the greasy spoon, record shop, and old movie theatre have all been torn down. They’re all condos now. Yet another symptom of living in a government town, where else are we going to house all those upwardly mobile civil servants?
The last song on the album, “The Family in the Mansion on Parliament Hill,” was actually first released last year in advance of the federal election. It pokes fun at elitist politicians and was a get-out-and-vote anthem. Here’s the slightly unnerving video:
“Down in a Government Town” was released last week at Irene’s Pub, but not to worry you can see them Saturday, November 26 at House of Targ. While you’re there you can pick u a copy of TARG ZINE where Tom writes an hilarious advice column.