Tom Maxwell & The Minor Drag

Tom Maxwell & The Minor Drag

SKH Music, 2014

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


On his third solo album, former sax player and singer for the Squirrel Nut Zippers Tom Maxwell returns to a very familiar sound with his new backing band. The sound is very reminiscent of early Zippers and Maxwell’s first solo album, 2000’s Samsara. On this disc, he has reunited with erstwhile Zippers producer Mike Napolitano and rooted himself in the music he knows best.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The leadoff track and first single, “Roll With It,” a duet with Ani DiFranco has a very Zippers feel to it, very quirky but very radio friendly at the same time. Great track to start things off with. Other songs throughout the record – for instance, “Blow Wolf,” a whimsical take on the three little pigs – would’ve fit in very comfortably on Samsara with its instrumentation and Maxwell’s dynamic vocals. “Moonglow” is a fine ballad, another in a long line of impressively written songs by the imitable Mr. Maxwell.

“The Skeleton Dance” is an amusing jazz ditty and one of my personal favorites and is a great showcase platform for the Minor Drag to stand out. “The Funky Knuckle,” another duet with Ani DiFranco has more of a rock feel to it than other songs on the record. But that’s one of the song’s strengths, heightened by an extended instrumental section, which stands as another great showcase for the musicians in the band.

A couple of songs have been rerecorded from Maxwell’s previous record, Kingdom Come. Their presence here is worthy as a result of the musicianship and Maxwell’s overall vision. “Jacob Marley” has some amazing vocals from Maxwell and might stand as some of his best vocal work. The closing track, “One Row,” is a slow burn of a song and is a great example of what Maxwell can do with melody and lyrics.

With this latest record, Maxwell can confidently put the Zippers in his rearview, having established himself as a great songwriter and a dynamic, always unpredictable singer. Anyone who enjoyed his first two releases will be more than pleased with Maxwell’s newest creation.

Rating: B+

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