Review of The Mess We Made Album by Tomas Doncker

Tomas Doncker's latest effort will drop at the beginning of November.  It's called 'The Mess We Made' and it's a political statement; in Doncker's case, it might be described as "racially charged". The underlying component is a plea for social change. Essentially, it is Doncker's emotional and musical reaction to The Day of the Charleston Massacre, on June 17, 2015.

Tomas Doncker The Mess We Made Album

Topical, political music is ambiguous because there's no clear correlation to its effectiveness. The ambiguity of political music revolves around its context. In other words, listeners must comprehend the historical and cultural events that inspired the music. Even then, the meaning of the message might be lost in translation or disregarded because of indifference.  

Renowned as a blues musician with superb abilities, Doncker was associated with the 1970s No Wave style of blues, which relied on redundant dynamic rhythms and emphasized texture rather than melody, incorporating blues, jazz, punk and funk into a nihilistic sound. Of course, that was forty years ago. Nowadays, Doncker's style is hard-driving, with roots that reach back to Howlin' Wolf and Chicago-style blues.

'Same Ol Dolls' releases hip hop laden blues, along with a chill melody and cool vocals. 'Church is Burning Down' starts off with a 1970s disco/reggae beat, and the "hey, hey" back-up vocals really open the song up, along with a thrilling falsetto that demonstrates Doncker's vocal range.

A funky beat sets the tone for 'The Revolution', a song that channels K.C. and the Sunshine band with its horns and bubbly melody. Truthful, irony-loaded lyrics get Doncker's message across: in effect, that the revolution has sold its soul for corporate sponsorship. The title track exudes Barry White-like vocals and a riveting, almost sultry arrangement and the melody is propelled by an animated organ.

Doncker's cover of U2's 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' might be the high spot of the album.  Doncker's version is slower and bluesy, with excellent phrasing. 'Blood and Concrete' brings back memories of Isaac Hayes with its funky beat, big sound sensibility and cyclical melody, whereas 'Time Will Tell' is gospel flavored, and its plaintive "wait and see" message strikes a heartfelt chord.

Whether or not listeners will accept the political message of 'The Mess We Made' remains to be seen.  However, whether they do or not, Tomas Doncker has created some wonderful music that stands on its own merits. Politics aside, Mr. Doncker is a tremendously talented singer/songwriter.


Randy Radic

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