Glenn Thomas Goes It Alone on 'Reassure Me There's a Window': Premiere

Glenn Thomas
Chelsea Mandes

Glenn Thomas

After seven years and two albums with Rhode Island rock trio Wild Sun, Glenn Thomas found himself feeling "the normal fatigue stuff you do in a band. I slowed down." Approaching his 30th birthday he decided to move to Nashville and make a different kind of music there, which surfaces as Reassure Me There's a Window, premiering exclusively below.

Produced by Jordan Lehning (Rodney Crowell, Andrew Combs),with a band that included Old Crow Medicine Show's Charlie Worsham and harmonica ace Charlie McCoy, the 10-song set is a reinvention for Thomas, its rich melodies and careful arrangements nothing like anything he's released before. "It's a record I've wanted to make for a long time," he explains, "a sort of song-based, singer-songwriter record like the Randy Newman and Elton John records I loved. They're songs I'd been writing that were more finger-picking and folky that an alt-rock power trio just couldn't do, so I shelved them and then just brought them together and wrote a couple more in the studio."

Thomas had about 16 songs he considered for Reassure Me..., ultimately settling on the final 10 for his album. "I think my influences have always just been songwriters," he explains. "Even if they were rock bands, they were song-first rock bands like R.E.M. and whatnot. Even in Wild Sun the songs were usually at the front more than my guitar playing. So this feels more like a stripped-down evolution than a departure." That is until you get an earful of Lehning's string arrangements on tracks such as "She is Leaving" or the lush, Mersey-like harmonics of "Oriole," the shuffling joy of "Give a Damn" and the country lope of "Shy Hinges," the album's oldest song.

"It was huge to go from the limitations of being in a three-piece band and then doing a record where nothing's off the table," Thomas says. "Letting the natural drama of the song be enhanced by live strings, pedal steel...It really opens it up a lot, in a lot of different ways."

The approach also gave Thomas more space for his lyrics, whether it was "asking a bird some questions" in "Oriole" ("You may lose the subtleties of that in more of a rock setting," he notes) or catching up with a first love 10 years later in "There's Not a Thing." In "Catherine Ames" he takes on the evil antagonist from John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.

"Because the songs were a little quieter than the band, I was able to dig into the words a lot more and take more conversational approaches to some of the songs," Thomas says. "It definitely allowed me to dive into these perspective, personal truths a lot more freely and more sort of descriptively."

With Reassure Me... due out May 15, Thomas will be making a number of online appearances in lieu of in-person performances. And in quarantine he's hunkering down on new solo material, with no plan to for Wild Sun to rise again soon. "I think I am in this post for awhile," Thomas says. "It's really been satisfying in a really new way that I love right now. Being on your own is a lot easier than three people and the arc of their lives. So I'm definitely going to see this through for as long as I can."

 

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