Tom Heyman – “24th Street Blues”

Album Reviews | Oct 5th, 2023

Tom Heyman - "24th Street Blues"
Image used with permission for review purposes

Record Label: Bohemian Neglect Recording Words
Genre: Singer/songwriter
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Save yourself, San Francisco! That might be the message Tom Heyman has on “24th Street Blues,” in which the Bay Area resident pleads the case of his adopted city, which has unquestionably fallen upon hard times in recent years. (I am in serious mourning over the closure of Anchor Steam!)

The titular track makes plaintive cries from the heart of the city’s Mission District, where Heyman lives and so much happened in the past but now “the garbage trucks are rolling up” and “shopping carts are rolling up.” Heyman returns to this anger later on with “The Mission Is on Fire,” in which he decries that age-old issue of gentrification and the wealthy only getting more so in this city so harshly segregated along economic lines.

“Desperate” stands up with some of the best singer-songwriter tone poems of the present. “Sonny Jim” is a funky blend of the strains of blues, country and even some bluegrass, and it’s one of the album’s highlights. Pay attention to the lyrical beauty of “Hidden History,” told as it is in a minor key. “Quit Pretending” takes the proceedings in an entirely new direction, and reminds me of certain Soul Asylum records from the early-’90s. “Searching for the Holy Ghost” is an intriguing, nearly anti-religious quest on the part of the narrator as he wails “all I found was ashes.” “White Econoline” offers yet another angst-ridden “love” letter to the city by the bay and its fall from grace. And “The Tender Touch” reminds us that we need to be gentle: with ourselves, with our loved ones, with our intentions.

If you enjoy the singer-songwriter genre, you could do far worse than Tom Heyman and his “24th Street Blues.” Frankly, it’s more fun—and more edifying—than yet more news reports about San Francisco designed to keep us scared of one of our most treasured cities.

Notable Tracks: 24th Street Blues, Desperate, Sonny Jim, The Mission Is on Fire, White Econoline, The Tender Touch
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