NEW AMERICANA ARTIST TOM SLESS DRAWS HIGH PRAISE FOR ‘ASSURANCE, CRAFT AND CONVICTION’ ON ‘UPLIFTING’ DEBUT ALBUM, ‘CALIFORNIA DREAM’
Live Quarantine Concert Series, California Dream: Melodies and Remedies, Continues Each Wednesday to Also Help Musicians Battle Adversity
California Dream, surveys Sless’s soulful ride down the winding roads of life and love from Jersey Shore and Baltimore roots to Los Angeles with celebratory country rock, nod-and-a-wink humor, and rough-hewn folksiness.
“[California Dream’s] assurance, craft and conviction belie the fact that [Tom]’s a novice or a newcomer of any kind. … Great stuff indeed.” - American Songwriter
Critical acclaim is mounting for LA based Americana singer-songwriter-guitar slinger TOM SLESS as the media continues to discover and embrace his new debut album, California Dream.
Released just as the COVID-19 pandemic in late March forced postponement of live Album Release events at home in Los Angeles and plans to tour across the country, California Dream receives high praise in the current edition of American Songwriter as an “uplifting” work that is “Great stuff, indeed,” offering an “assurance, craft and conviction” that belie Sless’s status as “a novice or a newcomer of any kind.” The song “Astronaut,” the magazine continues, “asks the question, ‘Will anyone remember me?’ Based on the evidence offered here, the answer is an emphatic yes indeed.”
Americana Highways hailed California Dream for its “wealth of good musical touches [with] style & a commercial charm that’s not too sweet,” adding that the “superb rollicking” guitar-driven track “Gimme the Breeze” – also featured in the Los Angeles Post-Examiner and Baltimore Post-Examiner – is “worth the price of the CD” alone. That rock-fueled energy, the review continues, is beautifully countered by the “sweet and dynamic” cut “Too Much On My Mind,” a looping, Grateful Dead-like, exploration of a musical theme driven by the pedal steel of — no relation — Barry Sless (Phil Lesh, Chris Robinson) with “excellent lyrical imagery.”
Midwest Record joyously noted “it’s always a treat to stumble across a singer/songwriter that knows how to make sensitive, personal songs without stooping to bleeding gums music,” adding that Sless “captures the wanderlust” in creating an album that’s “a dandy ear opener throughout.”
Sless likewise earned high marks from New Jersey Stage (“refreshingly honest”), Short and Sweet LA/NYC (“a songwriter not to be deterred” with “an insidious way” of “getting our feet tapping while he delivers lyrics of substance”), and Exclusive Magazine (“[he] immediately gets our attention, and as we progress, his musical messages carry us along on his rich journey”). Elmore Magazine and Nashville.com are among others planning coverage.
With coronavirus consciousness for his fellow musicians and followers in mind, Sless continues his weekly live streaming quarantine concert series “California Dream: Melodies and Remedies” also designed to help battle adversity through music and discussion. The interactive series premieres new episodes every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Pacific/10 p.m. Eastern on Instagram Live at www.instagram.com/tomsless with on-demand archived episodes at www.soundcloud.com/tomsless.
“California Dream: Melodies and Remedies” includes under-the-hood discussions of the inspiration for each week's featured song from the new album, an interview with a key contributor to the song's production, and an audience-Q&A round table focused on self-help strategies applicable to the pandemic, such as dealing with anxiety, maintaining motivation, and “finding joy in the little things.”
Co-produced by the Jersey Shore native with John Bottrell (Christina Perri, Mike Posner) and recorded live in the studio at comp-ny in Glendale, CA, California Dream carries us along Sless’s soulful ride down the winding roads of life and love with a vibe that alternates between the celebratory country rock of Luke Combs, the nod-and-a-wink humor of Sturgill Simpson, and the rough-hewn folksiness of Donovan Woods. Through canny lyrics and infectious tunes, California Dream captures Sless’s love of LA, the highs and lows of his decision to move there from the Baltimore area after college, and his struggles to embrace the past and push forward. Like Steve Earle, Sless displays bracing honesty in his songwriting, and like Jason Isbell, has a knack for creating a world in which our souls struggle to define themselves. With ceaseless creativity, Sless possesses an ear for the just-right melody and lyric, and a passion for songs that evoke his disappointments, hopes, joys, and loves.
Sless still plans to host album release events on the West Coast and East Coast once the live music terrain gets more clearly defined.
“This album is a huge step toward a realization of myself as an individual and a creative artist,” he says. “It’s a jumping off point into a world in which I can fully express myself as a human being. There truly is no better feeling.”