There are hobbies, and then there are lifestyles. The former tends to come with the non-committal ambiguity of something to merely pass the time, to fool the world that something is giving you an identity, while the latter takes the urgency of emergency, of pre-destined presence that is already encoded in one’s own DNA.
After cutting his jagged-teeth for ten years leading the Doors-esque, Grand Elegance, and a brief stint on percussion with kindred spirits, The Growlers, Warren Thomas, undisputed harbinger of debauched Zen and man behind Southern California’s elegantly-wasted country act The Abigails, picked up a guitar in summer of 2011 and learned all five-chords for the first time – and wasted no time to record a full album perfectly crafted, mean-spirited yet somehow vulnerable classics that surprised everyone except his inner circle who knew this day was inevitable. Songs Of Love And Despair was co-released by Burger and Mono Records in 2012 and sold out quickly, proving that the Abigails brand of Lee Hazlewood/Gun Club/Country Teasers-inspired cruelty was filling a void that was screaming to be sewed up.
By the time the tireless gigging in support of the debut was in full swing, Warren already had his next round of tarnished golden-bullets in the chamber. Tundra is almost savant in its creaky perfection, an album slightly heavier on the ballad side that makes it easier to soak up all the bottlenecking wisdom throughout. Never has impending doom felt so comforting – Warren was gifted the distinction of an effortless, story-telling baritone (once thought only reserved for icons like Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave) that oozes out of speakers and consumes a room as he spins tales of his misadventures with minor glimmers of accidental redemption on songs like “29” and “The Calm Before The Storm”, while “The One That Let Me Go” ventures into Roger Miller territory where its hinge on zaniness swings in defiance. The Abigails take on Leon Payne’s “It’s Nothing To Me” and makes it their own as it begins with a chilling, non-fiction answering machine message from Warren calling his engineer from a jail in Boise before crashing into a haunting twang-tangled fuck-all, confirming all of Warren’s confident threats that this may be his masterpiece. Until the next one…
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