[8 March 2012]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Bill Fox was the front man for Cleveland indie stalwarts the Mice back in the ‘80s, and then he disappeared into private life, half-emerging for two aching, excellent solo albums in the ‘90s. One Thought Revealed is his first album since 1998’s Transit Byzantium, and it proves worth the wait for the few who were (quite eagerly) anticipating new music from Fox. It’s a spare acoustic record, as fans might expect, though it belies the notion that he’s some recluse, since there are other players here. Tim O’Malley adds a striking sax solo to “When Darkened Skies Flash Out a Portend”, and John Stockdale’s organ work mirrors Fox’s raspy vocals sweetly all over the record. Fox spends much of the record starting us in familiar, even overdone territory—people feel butterflies and sing all day long—but he uses it to draw us down into mystical rabbit holes. On “Existence”, he starts with a first kiss that “felt like a dream”, but by the verse’s end he and his love have impossibly “tumbled into existence”. Most of the record finds Fox’s voice treated with different levels of echo, showing the content isolation at the heart of these songs, even when he bleats out a line like “the best things in life are loud”, which, on such a quiet record, feels like a bittersweet nod to the past. One Thought Revealed may run a bit short, but it is still a good deal more complex than its title or instrumentation provide, and another great record from a voice that is unheard by far too many.