Unlike Wirtz, but like his forebears on the blues side, Thorn can play it straight. He balances out the comedy with country barroom introspection like "Where Was I (When You Stopped Lovin' Me)?" and a good deal of between-songs patter that, for all the raunch, looks on the positive side of human relationships. Thorn grew up as the son of a Pentecostal preacher, and although he wrote a celebrated This I Believe essay a few years ago rejecting a Christianity of fear, a bit of his father's influence must be present in his shows. It all comes together in a song about "the Holy Ghost Big Bang Theory Pentecostal Fire and Brimstone Mission Temple Fireworks Stand," a one-of-a-kind call-and-response number about a black minister who gives up his pulpit so that he can be a "human bottle rocket" when the Lord returns.
[Originally published in March, 2009.]