The Godfather of alternative rock is back this summer, releasing his third solo album, Tomorrow In Progress.
Tyson Meade has been described as the ‘thinking man’s musician’, having reached iconic status through his work in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Kurt Cobain sited the enigmatic front-man as an early influence on Nirvana. He has inspired generations- from Iggy Pop to Smashing Pumpkins.
Having spent ten years teaching English in Shanghai, Meade had his musical genius rejuvenated by the curiosity of one of his students- Haffijy, a young violin prodigy who longed to know whether whispers of his tutor’s rock ‘n’ roll past were true. And it was through this curiosity that a muse was found and an artist reborn. Meade explains. “I played Haffijy some of my songs from my music days and he quickly wrote parts for them. Not only did he write parts, he played with such love and honesty that I was touched immeasurably. Birds chirped in some sort of Far East Disney way”…
Indeed, Meade is joined by some of his many musical admirers on the LP. Jimmy Chamberlin of Smashing Pumpkins features on drums while Derek Brown of Flaming Lips features on keyboard. Other collaborators include Nicole Fiorentino, Kerry Brown, Guy Erez and Kevin Dippold. The result is a beautifully diverse ten track collection which brings with it a refreshing new side to the Oklahoma native whilst provoking memories of a golden era.
Meade still oozes charisma, and as the album flows he unravels layers of grace, wit and style, exploring the full range of character which only the truest of flamboyant rockstars posses.
The album opens with Nihilists Need Love Too. It’s an intriguing gateway into the record and showcases Meade’s glam spirit. It has a familiar old-school intro, and takes off to remain funky throughout. The track highlights that famed vocal range wonderfully and sits perfectly against the album’s striking artwork. Indeed, if abstract art were to have a sound, Nihilists Need Love Too may quite probably be it.
The tempo drops slightly as we drift into second offering, Dusty Come Up For Air. Here we discover a solid percussion foundation to those dreamy vocal overtones. And whilst the tone has dropped a gear in terms of delivery, the track is jam-packed with the same energy and that magical Oklahoma spirit.
As you would expect of a man who has been there and done it all before, the album flows beautifully. It’s a very natural compilation, each track complimenting the last and paving the way for the next.
The album signs off with Buddy Dash. From start to end this track is wonderfully delivered by means of pleasant boy/girl harmonies. It’s a bright and upbeat, finger and foot tapper. Fresh and rather uplifting.
And that can be said of the entire album. It’s a ten track collection which perfectly illustrates what the voice of experience should sound like- the master returning to pass on his worldly knowledge to the young apprentice. But whilst the sound is undoubtedly fresh, one cannot help but wonder where Meade goes from here.
The record doesn’t feel like a return to grace or even an attempt. Nor does it serve to draw the line under a career to be celebrated for generations. But perhaps Tomorrow In Progress is not intended to be either, it may well be that the album will serve as more of a question rather than an answer.
Tomorrow In Progress may leave you wondering whether Tyson Meade is indeed truly back. But perhaps that’s an important factor and integral part of its charm. And perhaps, for now, the answer is irrelevant.
But what we do have here is unquestionable. A truly great album from a truly great artist.
Enjoy it for what it is..