Hey readers, I am so, so, so glad to reintroduce you to Guy Paul Thibault – an artist who I see as romantically rough, rugged, and raw with an artist presence that is a great cross between the flair of a gentleman and the edginess of a biker. His music resonates so practically that anyone can relate to its storylines and want more after their first listen.
Thibault’s recent album is entitled “The Road Between” – a fully loaded collection of County Rock songs that highlights loving hard in the Millennium and playing even harder illustrating that omnipresent fork in the road when it comes to making decisions in life.
Nine songs illustrate this theme:
- Dangerous Strangers
- Talk to Me
- Take Me
- Who Are You
- Day Drinking
- No One Understands
- Don’t See Me Cry
- Catch My Fall
This is my interpretation of the album’s five highlights.
“Anymore” opens the album with a classic Honky-Tonk vibe featuring hand-claps, guitars rushing in, and the bass drum sounding off. The lyrics of “Anymore” shares the story of a man who recounts the history he shared with his lover and how he is still floored by the sudden change in their relationship: Walking home I lost the spring in my step / Passing our old front door / The thought in my head was something you said that cut me straight to the core . . . now all of these things I just can't forget . . . you don't know where I sleep at night anymore / you don't know what it’s like in my life anymore . . . why don't cha love me anymore / why don't ya love me anymore / why don’t ya love me anymore / why don't ya love me anymore. Thibault vividly highlights the protagonist’s distress creating that emotional whirlwind effect by layering his vocals and adlibs.
Once more, “Anymore” features multiple vocal renderings from Thibault, like echoed leads, double harmonies in the hooks, and a muffled vocal in the bridge at the two minutes / 32 second’s mark. This is a different vocal approach from Thibault when compared to his previous work, but so refreshing as it really brings home that clichéd point in one’s life where they are left hanging, you know the feeling, like the song has ended and you are still dancing – that’s what Thibault accomplished with his technique. Perfect!
“Dangerous Strangers” brings that sizzle that we were waiting to hear. Production-wise, Thibault uses the typical verse, prechorus, hook formation which aids the listener in following along with the artist as they present the song’s message. Thibault’s baritone tears into the cut opening the song with lyrics that paints the picture of a one night stand about to go down: I can’t think / I think you blew my mind / the feeling that I get is that you're one of my kind / my kind of bad mistake / taking all my lies / so pretty in pink / what’s behind those sad eyes.
Tactfully, Thibault incorporates the technique of changing-up the song’s tempo for each section of the song which enables the listener to really become a part of the song’s journey. For instance, the verses have a mid-tempo which showcases the feeling of a person when they just encounter another person and they are being cautious. Illustrating anticipation, the prechorus’ melody modulates with the words: For a minute think you saw, what was really on my mind / a touch of evil, it could be a simple little crime / you can only think of him, how he broke your heart / Are you gonna do to him what he did to you / What he did to you / What he did to you. And then the hooks come in scaled back in tempo resetting the mood of the track with a lowered vocal register singing, “Yes we’re dangerous strangers, out tonight / Yes we’re dangerous strangers, just you and I.”
With the inclusion of varied synths coupled with flashy guitars, refined percussions, an organ, and what sounds like a harpsichord, “Dangerous Strangers” literally takes you along for a ride viewing that chance encounter at night. A female vocal lace the track adding a bit of sugar to Thibault’s spice, and the open-ended outro leaves you wondering about the character’s whereabouts. You truly get to feel the atmosphere of the song’s affair.
And if any song will put you in a guitar-induced coma, “Who Are You” will do the job. Starting with an imposing organ, drums, and bass, this song is leaving some heavy footprints to follow. Yes, sir! I was hooked at the first tambourine beat, but that killer synth riff that lies in that song like a snake just was fire! That riff alone is bold enough to carry the weight of the song’s message.
“Who Are You” is based on the principle of culpability where the song’s character is contemplating where he stands in his relationship with a guilty conscience: The way I feel after sunset / I’ve lost the stars in your eyes / with some unknown motion broken your heart / You just can’t seem to say goodnight / cause here is the moonlight / and these are our scars / though you lie here beside me / I can’t tell who you are / Do you feel like I'm closing you in / Do you just need someplace to hide / You've realized what you missed from the start / and your tired of these silly lies /cause here is the moonlight and these are our scars / though you lie here beside me / I can’t tell who you are. Thibault’s edgy vocals executed with a down prowess, added to smoky backing vocals, supports this music-driven track that features a descending instrumental melody for its leads paired with an ascending melody of the hooks. The guitar solo at the two minutes / seventeen seconds point leaves you wondering if the title speaks in terms of the protagonist questioning himself or his partner.
“Day Drinking” is an up-tempo track that starts slowly with a sort of muted drum kick and quickly builds into a full rock track that has that nice American Country Rock vibe to it that sets the summer off right. The announcer in the intro sets you up for the wild ride, and the fully-charged melodic verses coupled with Rock choruses keeps you glued to the music. Telling the story of how it’s okay to reminisce only if you are willing to try something new, “Day Drinking” is an incredible [song] that is stockpiled with varied guitars blazing, harmonica, percussions waxed on, and tambourines that tickle us with a little Pop to ignite. It is bringing the nightlife to the AM and showing how to live to celebrate life.
Once more, Thibault is still surgical, not mechanical, with his guitar and he displays this craft by inserting a spirited guitar solo set as the bridge that just lifts the track up texturally and builds a mental picture of a hometown where practical people make life livable. In addition, we are graced with Thibault’s powerful baritone that never settles it just keeps on, keeping on carving the way for a hit.
And while it features many niche-specific instrumentations, [Day Drinking] is not cliched as it encompasses a modern command to its beat and millennial textures that climb when the verses are ready to showcase and modulate at the entrance of the hook. [inserted from Klef Notes’ review of this single, July 2018]
“Catch My Fall” is a beautiful Country Rock ballad that does not waste time in establishing the premise that everyone needs saving at one point in their lives. The lyrics flawlessly illustrates the song’s theme, singing: Sweet September, sweet September rain comes down on me tonight to wash away the pain / why'd you leave, now I’m walking these same streets with a pocket full of memories I just can't leave at my feet / with the break of May she turned and walked my way / an angel with a broken heart, a little lost runaway / she cut like diamonds through the walls I had built / then I let her in my heart and those walls I rebuilt / Please don't cry tonight / Please don’t leave tonight / Who's gonna be there to Catch my fall / And though I thought I knew what love could be / she tried to stay but had much more road to see / and though she cried on the night she left I can still hear her last words ringing in my head [CHORUS]. Such descriptive songwriting.
The song’s lead character (who was broken in heart and spirit) saved a female’s life by rescuing her from running away from her past (or fears), thus he was saved by her love for him; still, he had to develop strength, as he had to let her go for her to freely live her life. WOW! This is one of the hardest things in life to do. “Catch My Fall” carries everything it needs to sew up this wonderful collection of Country Rock songs: lyrics that construct such a visually moving story, a modern progressive instrumental arrangement, vibrant 3-4-part harmonies, and a delicately rough vocal. This Country Rock song sings to the girl in the club.
And, do not miss out on listening to the full-bodied, guitar-driven “Talk to Me,” the tender “Take Me,” the heart-wrenching “No One Understands,” and the elusive “Don’t See Me Cry” that features a heavy piano core and a hair-standing-on-end guitar solo, check out this out at its one-minute /55 seconds mark. Ya’ll? I’m just saying! There are so many surprises on this album. “The Road Between” is a bold step in the right direction.
I have noticed some changes with the artist’s vocal technique, which is quite impressive with layering of vocals and structured harmonies, as well as some hints of vocal FX which gives the collection more swagger, confidence, and a push into the direction of Modern Country Rock instead of classic Country Rock. And even though you may hear some FX, Thibault keeps it to a minimal.
Regarding the overall production, nothing feels rushed creating that ugly overwhelming feeling that some listeners receive when listening to other types of modern music. This album is the way that upgrades should be completed!
Even to the point of the title accentuating the threading theme of the album’s storylines – nothing was left to chance.
If you think of life in general as a current place instead of just a destination, there will be roads running right through it with your past on one side, your presence on the other, and your future right up the road. This theme is encapsulated in the songs collected on this album, showcasing a personal reflection of the artist himself rather than the artist’s view of another.
Each song has some type of description presenting a topic as one way, or the other – for instance, the line between success and false hope, love and lust, or sanity and insanity.
This songwriting method easily translates to everyday people, just regular folks – those who wear blue jeans, drive regular cars, and look to the weekend to let their hair down. It is pure passionate practicality set to music. And trust me, Thibault never, never, never disappoints when it comes to the music.
With Thibault, the guitar always takes center stage on each song, but the way that he builds the song around his guitar is simply amazing. He masterfully tweaks his playing to suit the additional instruments of the tracks. For each song’s theme, melody, and/or vocal, he adjusts his guitar riffs and chords, or simply plugs in an entirely different textured technique, to customize and enhance the song. Moreover, he makes sure to include a core melody that can either be salty or sweet while making sure each additional instrument reflects the mood of the song without sacrificing that guitar’s dominance.
You must reach for “The Road Between!”