w/ special guest Tchotchke
There are times in our life when we feel magic in the air. When new love arrives, or we find ourselves lost in a moment of creation with others who share our vision. A sense that: this is who I want to be. This is what I want to share.
It’s a fleeting feeling and one that Kyle Thomas, the singer-songwriter who records and performs as King Tuff, found himself longing for in the spring of 2020.
But knowing he couldn’t simply recreate this time in his life at will, Thomas—who hails from Brattleboro, Vermont—set out to write a love letter to those cherished moments of inspiration and to the small town that formed him. The one where he first nurtured his songwriting impulses, bouncing ideas off other like-minded artists. The kind of place where the changing of the seasons always delivered a sense of perspective and fresh artistic inspiration. Where he felt a deeper connection with nature and sense of community that had once been so close at hand.
“I wanted to make an album to remind myself that life is magical,” he reflects.
And so, Thomas seized upon his memories, creating what he calls “an album about love and nature and youth.”
The result is Smalltown Stardust, a spiritual, tender and ultimately joyous record that might come as a shock to those with only a passing knowledge of the artist’s back catalog. On Smalltown Stardust, Thomas takes us on his journey to a place where past and present collide, where he can be a dreamer in love with all that he sees. Images of his youth abound: from Route 91 which runs through his hometown (in “Smalltown Stardust”); to Redtooth, a spectre who used to roam the streets (“Bandits Of Blue Sky”); to old friends, old haunts and old dreams (“Always Find Me”); to Vermont’s Rock River, which gave its name to a song of a torch still burning for past love: “Those days are gone and we can’t rewind/ Cuz people grow and places change/ But my love for you will never fade away.”
In the end, Smalltown Stardust is not merely a nostalgia trip. In making the record, Thomas not only conjured a special time in his life, he found new inspiration, surrounded by a small circle of collaborators and a sense of love and wonder for nature. If the first King Tuff record was content to merely state Thomas was no longer dead, Smalltown Stardust is a paean to what that life means. A statement of belief and a hymnal to the magic still to behold all around us. “I’m a different person now than I was 20 years ago when I first started it. But oddly, when I first started the band, it was more like this,” he says. Which is to say, things have come full circle.
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