Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary by TothRelease date: May 10, 2019
Label: Northern Spy Records
There are two things you should not expect from this album titled Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary. First is this is not an album by James Jackson Toth, to indie/folk/whatever fans also known as Wooden Wand, somebody who has quite a few albums under his belt. The album is a debut by Alex Toth, a jazz trumpeter by his musical training. The second thing they should not expect is a straight or smooth jazz album. Not that Alex doesn’t use his jazz feel in the construction of songs here, or his obviously good trumpet skills, like on ‘No Reason’ or ‘Picture of You’, simply, it is not a jazz album as such.
You see, Alex Toth is a music experimentalist of another sort – he takes on a musical genre, as he does with his punk project, Alexander F, or Rubblebucket, a band that goes in the funk jam direction and adds other elements he knows or loves. Here it is a forlorn, languid indie folk that takes its cues from the likes of Bon Iver and then takes it into his own personal direction.
The similarities with Bon Iver’s seminal ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ lies more in the mood and lyrical concept, as Alex’s debut is also inspired by a relationship breakup, than in any musical lines, as Toth’s effort is more an intricately arranged affair, like on tracks such as ‘Copilot’, but musically as well defined and executed.
It took Toth almost three years to come up with Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary, as he not only suffered a broken relationship but a broken foot (onstage, during a concert with his punk outfit) but being stuck immobile for long spells of time obviously gave Alex Toth a chance to really work out his musical ideas, which he did almost to perfection. One of the debuts of the years so far.