Hardly a day goes by when I am not surprised by the music industry. There are so many great artists, and yet so little time to admire them, and even less time to discover new ones. Great artists are everywhere, the problem is, how do you find them in the ‘white noise’ that the mass media immerses us in? I would say I go looking, but that isn’t the truth, it comes and finds me. Love Won Out certainly is in that category, it found me, and I am damn glad it did!

With a name like Tokyo Rosenthal, I had the image conjured up in my mind of someone vaguely Japanese, with maybe some Jewish influence! Well I was wrong, but there again I am often wrong. What did surprise me though was that this barrista of Americana has been on the music scene for three decades and I had never heard him before. Even stranger, last year he had a big hit with his song Edmonton. At the time I was living in Alberta’s other major city Calgary about 150 miles away. The story goes that Tokyo is a bit of an Ice Hockey fan, and Edmontonians adopted Tokyo’s song as the Oiler’s pursued their quest for Sir Stanley’s Cup.

Love Won Out is a delightful journey into the land of story songs with an acoustic guitar accompaniment. I love to pigeon hole musicians, to give them labels, to put them neatly in the filing cabinet! I swore that I would never do this, but I do! Tokyo is a bit of an odd bird, there are so many musical influences that permeate his songs that the review would likely just result in a long list of just about every solo artist I have ever liked.

dsc_7601.jpgKicking off with Saint Patrick’s Day, we get a glimpse into Tokyo’s wide repertoire. This is a light soft rock ballad, with some complex musical arrangements behind it. This is a classic song waiting to be discovered. In some ways this one song sums up Tokyo’s style. At first listen it is simplistic, but when you listen again you start to pick up the nuances and the complexities of this composition. Each time I listened to this track I found something new and fun.

Track three Little Poetry Girl, is right out of the Donovan play book. In fact had I not known that this was Tokyo Rosenthal, I would have bet a dollar on it being from Donovan. The meter, and word smithing and deliverance are identical, maybe I was hearing things, but I could have sworn that there was some harmonica in there as well! Of course there is one major difference, Donovan has long since distanced himself from his fans. I tried for months to get an interview with him, finally, via a third party I got a “He doesn’t do interviews”. I suspect that Tokyo is much more approachable.

I Care If You Do (track 5) is a journey down the country lane, with a slightly bluegrass and slightly hillbilly feel about it. This is the kind of song that you would expect to find on CMT with a great video in support.

Love Won Out (track 7) takes us in yet another musical direction, with what sounds like a slide guitar, this track screams blues, blues, blues at you! You can check this one out for free, and who doesn’t like free?

How has this great musician stayed under the radar for so long? That is a complex question and one that I could apply to so many great artists. The world is jam packed with great musicians, yet what is rammed down our throats on TV and Radio is what big media wants, it has little to do with what the consumer wants.

Take my advice, and I am old and jaded! Take ‘Toke’ out for a spin, this is a no lose proposition.

Rumor has it that he is pretty much permanently on tour, so check out his web site and see if he is coming to your town.

Love Won Out can also be ordered through Amazon.

Great CD, this one gets five stars from this old and jaded reviewer. It is so good to find something new and refreshing. Watch out Toke, you just came on the radar!

Simon Barrett


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