The scenery of Thorn’s rural South is changing. The trailer parks, gravel roads around Tupelo and high school beauty queens flicker in the rear-view mirror. Two years ago, Thorn returned to his early gospel roots with the release of “Don’t Let the Devil Ride.”
In contrast with earlier work that riffed on short-term love affairs, as well as “kissing the right one good-bye,” the writing on Thorn’s upcoming release, “Never Too Late To Call” features music from a man who is with the “right one” and is happy to be there.
This offering, seven years in the making, features all original material, some songs written by Thorn, others co-written with his friend and longtime manager Billy Maddox. The album was recorded at Sam Phillips Studio in Memphis and produced and engineered by Grammy winning wunderkind Matt Ross-Spang.
In the case of what is arguably the album’s most tender composition, “Sapphire Dream,” Thorn teamed up with his daughter Kitty Jones, who co-wrote the song and accompanies her dad on vocals:
Jeweled birds fly under crushed velvet skies
And the blue rain don’t fall on me
The sun is on our face; it’s a perfect place
And the one I love is here with me, in my sapphire dream
Particularly poignant is “Breaking Up For Good Again.” On this track, Thorn is accompanied by his wife Heather. Their harmonizing is not only lovely, but resonates with a ring of truth known to two who have driven together that rutted, bumpy road every married couple must travel.
“There’s a theme running throughout the record about people needing each other and reaching out to each other,” Thorn said.
As is the case with all of Thorn’s songs, the album’s title track, “It’s Never Too Late to Call,” comes with a story.
He wrote the song for his sister Deborah who died in 2018. When Thorn was on the road, he’d long to talk to someone after his shows, hours after the members of his immediate family were asleep. But his sister, a night owl, would often stay up all night.
“I could call her and she’d always be awake,” Thorn said. “I wrote that song about her.”
The song is one more example of a distinguishing characteristic of Thorn’s work — a quality his fans love — the intensely personal nature of his lyrics. Thorn’s music has always been a reflection of where he’s been or where he is in his life. On “Never Too Late to Call,” we find mellower Paul Thorn. The razor wit and the gently humorous commentary on life’s existential questions are in evidence, but here there is a peace about his life’s journey. Or, to put it in his words, “I’ve been such a lucky boy. I’m crying two tears of joy.”