Ty Tabor's latest solo album, Safety, was written and recorded over a three-year period. Arriving at an unfortunately appropriate time for this reviewer, the ten songs chronicle his journey through the end of a "busted marriage". Aside from Jerry Gaskill on drums for most of the tracks and Christian Nesmith providing a few backing vocals, Tabor plays and sings (and produces and mixes and masters) everything on the album.
While the material from King's X (Ty's main band) is usually harder and more progressive, Ty's solo music is full of easily palatable pop-rock with catchy melodies and copious amounts of Beatle-derived vocal harmonies. The opening track, "Tulip" is example one with an upbeat acoustic-electric song that bears a strong George Harrison influence. The title track mixes acoustic Zeppelin with Crosby, Stills & Nash vocal harmonies to create a rollicking good tune where Tabor finds some peace during his marital discord.
As is my wont, my favorites are the few where crunchy guitar riffs propel Ty's silken vocals through unusual chord changes. In "Better To Be On Hold" Ty captures his emotional state succinctly with lyrics like "She's all about her business/ She's got an address / And I am helpless" while accompanied by a great, chunky guitar riff. "Funeral", possibly the heaviest song, has more gutsy guitar work leading to multi-layered vocal harmonies in the chorus and one mind-blowing guitar solo, effective more for it's emotion than it's technical aspects. Although Tabor finds his life to be a "perpetual funeral" the bridge reveals the hope that "the knot will slowly start to loosen." While you might expect a song titled "Anger" to give a double-dose of distortion, Tabor instead presents a mid-tempo pop-rock gem while me muses that there is "Anger if I think about it" while again realizing that "I can see the end of the roller coaster." The final track, "I Don't Mind" opens and closes with some freakish Adrian-Belewish guitar sounds compliments of Wally Farkas. With slow, melancholy guitars ringing Tabor takes off his wedding ring and coils a great melody around the lyrics "And if it's you / You need to find / I don't mind / Anymore", closing the album with an inner resolution to heal and move on.
I've always found Tabor to be at his best when collaborating with others and this album is no exception. There are some incredible melodies and vocal harmonies within and while I don't personally subscribe to the clingy "I'll be your doormat while you 'find' yourself" slant of the lyrics, one would be hard pressed not to find songs which speak to the wounded soul.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, June 2002.