by Jeena Johnson
The singer-songwriter, TJ Doyle, lives in a community on the edge of the Angeles National Forest, above LA – where his band converges to play cyclical gigs at The Whiskey, The Roxy and other LA rock institutions. Recorded at Studio City Sound with Grammy award winning engineer Tom Weir, “On The Horizon”, TJ Doyle’s sophomore album strives to deliver the ‘overarching message of rehabilitating humanity’. As Doyle himself puts it, “many perceived separations exist on the surface, while there is something much deeper that humans share behind the mask of consciousness.”
It’s been a while since a new album has caused as many immediate repeated listening’s for me as “On The Horizon”. I guess it’s inevitable to compare this recording to artists like Neil Young, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and REM, and also to their very best songs and albums, because TJ Doyle stands up extremely well in that context. Many of the songs have touching, reflective lyrics, and a philosophical maturity that is well beyond anything you will currently find in the popular music market.
Several songs are standouts, and the melody that I find running through my mind later seems to vary among those. “Human” is so touching and absolutely beautiful; I think anyone who has experienced significant discrimination or ostracism will be moved by such an interpretation of our own being and relational morality. But in in terms of emotional power, the album abounds with significant tracks, such as “Cold Rain”, “Everything”, “On The Horizon” and “We Are Here”.
Listening to TJ Doyle is like getting a letter from an old friend who you haven’t heard from in a few years. The reminiscent tone of TJ’s voice is immediately familiar and deeply touching, especially as he discusses worldly themes from the perspective of a person who wants to communicate thoughts that may have gone unspoken for too long.
Philosophically speaking, most of us do not get to really know that many people – in a lifetime, we might count a few family members and a handful of friends as truly close. Strangely enough, TJ Doyle sounds like someone you know really well!
There is both an air of enlightenment and humility that brands “On The Horizon”, as TJ Doyle follows an alternative rock muse, where the words and music is delivered in a heartfelt and moving way that is straight from his soul. On this album TJ performs much the way you would expect a world-wearied man, facing humanity’s life threatening elements to – honest, reflective – but with an all-encompassing skill of an artist who not only has the words and music, but also the wisdom to keep it simple.
TJ Doyle consistently displays an uncanny ability to make the rustic feel perfectly contemporary; to make the obvious seem extraordinary. Simple yet challenging, non-preachy yet full of meaning; I have no doubt in my mind that “On The Horizon” will stand the test of time. Never will music like this stop being good!