The Rest Is History

Digging the latest from a one-man band turned solo artist

The Rest Is History
Shiny happy people

This was one of those days that seems to skate along smoothly enough until shit decides to up and hit the fan at the last minute, keeping you shackled to your desk until well beyond the appointed hour. As a result, I have less time to write than I'd like, but it wasn't all bad — continuing what's been a fantastic week for music discovery, the algorithm handed me an album called The Rest Is History by a guy named Thomas Walsh, and I fell immediately in love, spending much of the day with the whole thing on repeat.

"You idiot," some of you are probably saying. "Thomas Walsh is Pugwash, and also half of the Duckworth Lewis Method. How was his name not immediately familiar to you, and also, why did you not hear The Rest Is History when it was released last fall?" I have no real excuse for my ignorance on either count, other than that I'm stubbornly resistant to jumping on bandwagons that seem like they're already well occupied, and I know enough Pugwash proselytizers that I've long felt like they've been doing just fine without me.

This is a deep personal failing that I'm working to correct, and Thomas Walsh isn't the first brilliant artist it's kept me from enjoying for a stupidly long period of time. I intend to start diving into his oeuvre tomorrow; in the meantime, if you aren't already a member of the faithful, I'm here to preach with the passion of the recently converted — The Rest Is History is just about a perfect pop record, a seamless distillation of classic influences that have been reverberating through speakers for so long that there's no point in trying to guess whether Walsh found them at the source or among multitudinous acts who were subsequently influenced.

Let me put that more clearly. When I listen to The Rest Is History, I hear bits of Emmit Rhodes and pieces of Ron Sexsmith, which in turn means I'm hearing the Beatles and the Beach Boys and XTC and ELO and... well, you get the idea. It's a 35-minute candy bar that smartly leavens its sticky melodies and sunny harmonies with dashes of melancholy, settling on a perfectly bittersweet balance that's brilliantly served by the album's radiantly warm production. A lot of records in this vein can trend toward the brittle side of the audio spectrum, but The Rest Is History makes you feel like you're sitting in a room with a crowd of genius musicians during the late afternoon of an early summer day.

This didn't happen accidentally. Walsh has earned some famous fans over the years, and some of them showed up for The Rest Is History; guests include Michael Penn, XTC vet Dave Gregory, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott, and Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy (not to mention the Duckworth Lewis Method). It's a testament to Walsh's talent that the final product still sounds uniformly like its own thing; unless you were looking at the credits, I think you'd be hard pressed to pinpoint which song includes which guest artist.

Long story short, this is one of the most beautifully consistent albums I can remember hearing for a very long time; if you like any of the artists mentioned throughout this post and you haven't already listened to The Rest Is History, I can't recommend it highly enough. If you have already listened to it and you're reading this while shaking your head and standing in judgment, then leave me alone.