Tom Skinner ‘Tom Skinner' (598 Recordings)
On Oklahoma's homegrown music scene, Tom Skinner is one of those quiet legend types, an exceptional and humble singer-songwriter content to hang back in the shadows rather than seek the spotlight.
Skinner, 58, shines on his new self-titled album, which showcases his storytelling and convivial voice.
The Bristow native counts Garth Brooks among his former bandmates and Mike McClure among his current cohorts. Although Skinner's name often turns up in album credits for the likes of the Red Dirt Rangers, The Great Divide and The Departed, he has rarely recorded himself, preferring the energy of live shows.
But Skinner's debut on fledgling Oklahoma-based 598 Recordings, which McClure operates with C.P. Sparkman, the album's executive producer, provides such a warm and inviting platform for the Tulsan's distinctive voice that listeners can be excused if they don't catch right away just how great the songcraft and musicianship happen to be.
With stalwart pals like McClure, Joe Hardy and Steve Ripley handling the engineering, producing and recording, it's little wonder that “Tom Skinner” sounds so darn cozy that the timely anthem “All You Can Do,” which he co-wrote with McClure and Okemah singer-songwriter Susan Herndon, fairly scorches with heated outrage.
Then there is the quirky rambler's ode “Nickel's Worth of Difference,” another song he and McClure wrote together, while Herndon and Skinner intertwine their contrasting voices beautifully on the romantic duet “Favorite Cup,” by fellow Oklahoma scribe Larry Spears. Skinner shows his talents as a balladeer on “That's Where We Belong.”
But the singer-songwriter does his best work when he's bringing telling stories like Hoyt Axton's “Gypsy Moth,” Gary Wayne Thomason's “Hollis,” Randy Pease's “I Love This Game” or his own “Christal.”
And the music veteran, who will perform Sunday night at the Blue Door's Tribute to Woody Guthrie, understands the wisdom of saving the best for last, with the piano ballad “Way Back When.”
— Brandy McDonnell