Rising Americana Artist Tom Sless Releases Lyric Video For 'Taking Me Back' Amid High Praise For 'Assurance, Craft And Conviction' On 'Uplifting' Debut Album, 'California Dream'

Posted Jul. 26, 2020

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.

Rising Americana Artist Tom Sless Releases Lyric Video For 'Taking Me Back' Amid High Praise For 'Assurance, Craft And Conviction' On 'Uplifting' Debut Album, 'California Dream'

First Post-Quarantine Live Show: Thursday, July 16 in Return to Jersey Shore Roots

"[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

LOS ANGELES (July 10, 2020) - As acclaim mounts while the media continues to discover and embrace his new debut album, California Dream, LA based Americana singer-songwriter-guitar slinger TOM SLESS has released a new lyric video for "Taking Me Back," the rollicking country rock track that delivers the good-time vibe of a Luke Combs song.

The music video debuts just as Sless returns East to perform his first live show since quarantine hit. He's headed to his Jersey Shore roots for a live show Thursday, July 16 at the Water Dog Smoke House in Ventnor, NJ.

Sless produced and directed the video, working with animators/editors Zach Alicaway and Davis Burns to embody that song's go-for-a-drive-and-don't-come-back theme. They used sights of the roads of LA and the classic California VW van driving along the coastal highways, sometimes stopping to reflect while taking in the surroundings, but not long enough to stop moving on a journey to a new beginning.

"These same roads in LA motivated me as I was processing similar emotions to those described in the song," says Sless. "With the animation style, I wanted to capture the uncertain buoyancy I've felt after leaving a negative experience behind. The words bounce along with the beat of the song, and fade into the background just as the sorrow of the present melts into the past."

"Taking Me Back" rides along a scampering pedal steel guitar as the singer declares "I don't want to be alone tonight/but I can't stay here with you/It hasn't been easy to swallow all that truth/It hasn't been easy taking me back from you." The sunny sound of the song belies its emotional complexity. "Although we may want to divorce ourselves from who we once were as we chart a new path," says Sless, "the people we are today is permanently colored by the experiences we've had in the past." Yet, like the acoustic guitar that drives the song, we all keep chugging along, even as we "swallow all that truth."

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 received high praise from 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"). United Stations Radio Network, American Songwriter, and Lakeshore Public Radio are among others planning coverage.

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 capturesSless'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.

Genre: Americana

RIYL: Luke Combs, Sturgill Simpson, Donovan Woods, Jason Isbell, Steve Earle, Darius Rucker

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