RICH MAN (www.adamtoms.com)


"Me and my baby don't got much, but we got something/ love on the money, high on the loving/ we keep working, saving, praying and paying our dues/ it's hard to get it, even harder to keep it/ almighty dollar is always up and leaving/ I told my baby I don't have a care/ I don't have to be a millionaire/ I'm a rich man because we got each other." - Rich Man - Drew McAlister-Tamara Stewart.

Victorian country singer-songwriter Adam Toms put his money where his mouth was in June, 2011.

The latter day Benalla bard and wife Jo sold their house and quit their day jobs and hit the road with their two young children.

They made a documentary, edited by renowned video director Ross Wood, and packaged it with his third album Rich Man - a 12 song indie disc featuring 10 Toms originals.

Are We There Yet - On The Road With Adam Toms - is a bare bones reality rooted reflection of life far from the glitter of pop music in the big city concrete corrals and faux fern bars.

It also included six video clips - a major feat for an indie rural artist completely reliant on CMC Pay TV, ABC TV and indie TV shows.

That joyous journey is captured graphically in the song Are We There Yet - an autobiographical tale with a little help from the wife and kids.

This CD is a commercial conduit with ABC and community radio with a little support from regional stations not programmed from city hubs.

So what's the rest of the music like?

Well, the title track - penned by Goulburn Valley born singer Tamara Stewart and Narrabri refugee Drew McAlister - draws on the old analogy that true love is more lucrative for the soul than money.

Toms kicks off with the anthemic Rowdy Together, penned with McAlister's recording and performing partner Drew Kemp.

It's a generic party tune, torn from the pages of Brooks & Dunn and their modern descendants Justin Moore, Luke Bryan and, of course, locals artists such as McAlister Kemp.

Toms further exploits that Machisomo imagery in Boots and audience participation tune Is Everybody Doin' OK.

The latter was penned by frequent Aussie tourist David Lee Murphy, Shane Minor and a chap by the monicker of J.P Twang who was published by expat Australasian Barry Coburn and wrote the Reba McEntire hit Turn On The Radio.

More melodic and credible is Much Like A Man - an attempt to repair a ruptured romance before it's too late with parallels to paternal history - that benefits from the feminine touch of co-writer Felicity Urquhart.

Equally redemptive is the post road trip plea - with broken down automotive metaphor - to a fleeing femme fatale in another Kemp collaboration Tell Me Now.

It's no surprise that Toms is at his best on his evocative songs such as the duet with Chris E Thomas on Can't Quit You and the mood swings of his paternal paean I Wouldn't Change A Thing.

He borrows from the balladry and vocal accessibility of expat superstar Keith Urban in the cheating challenges of Temptation but can also drive an up-tempo song - the freewheeling Rollin - without being burdened by country clichés.

A fitting finale is the pathos primed Shine On Me where Toms inhabits the shoes of a farmer, working a 15 hour day, who is decimated by fire and floods.

The plaintive sun metaphor drives home the message of the Australian bush families raped by nature and city firebugs and later banks and insurance companies in their recovery phase.

Fertile food for thought if you can swallow it.

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