Tim Harrison, |
(Second Avenue, 1999)
Tune up the bus, pack some clothes and head for Toronto!
If there weren't already so many rave reviews about Tim Harrison, I'd swear my eclectic roots were showing. Tim is a true folky with enough power to top the charts time after time. First thing you should know about is his background. Based in Ontario, this singer, songwriter and artistic director has been one of the most active figures in the Canadian folk music scene for many years. He has a resume to rival George Lucas's and he truly knows how to deliver. Just look at these credentials: artistic director of the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival (Owen Sound), the All-Canadian Mariposa Festival, Northwinds and the Englewood Festival. What more do we need to know, except why isn't he better known in America?
The man has developed a definitive tone of his own. The whole Harrison package suggests a writer who's mature, yet doesn't jade the world with depressing concepts that often flood music of this genre. He writes using a unique blend of traditional and contemporary folk with a country base and a pervasive essence of spiritual/Celtic moods. His guitar charges on with powerful rhythms, some smokin' country leads and countless other melodic incantations. Everybody gets equal time to shine. Vocal themes do center around the typical love, hope and relationship subjects, but his unique approach creates a magnetic originality. Tim Harrison is spiritual and serious with an occasional easygoin' release. He keeps it real.
Tim is essentially the Bob Dylan I always wanted to hear. The words all plead with powerful desperation and make you a true believer. His desperate vocal quality has a way of reaching through your chest, gripping your heart and forcing you remember Shakespeare's words, "To thine ownself be true." You can't listen to this album without gaining some sense of therapy.
He tears at hidden truths in a realistic sense in "Inside This Song" with words like these: "It's funny how a passion's fire can make flames that burn as ice. And how love makes us a liar, an alchemy to sacrifice." But fear not a-coming of age too early, he always leaves us with a flickering light of hope.
One thing that distinguishes the quality of a songwriter is whether or not it is full enough to hear it a different way each time it spins. Well, rest assured, you'll find no shortage on the menu here. Tim's included a vast number of instruments, and each song has just the right mix for the mood. The spectrum of sounds includes emotional fiddle and pennywhistle lines, country twangin' dobro, an occasional soulful saxophone, and more. Nineteen artists in all, so get ready to be moved by a full chorus of voices.
Tim plays 6- and 12-string guitars, piano and mandola. Guests include Rick Whitelaw on flat-picked guitar, Al Cross on drums, Dennis Pendrith on bass, Kim Deschamps on dobro and steel guitars, Kevin Gould on Hammond organ and accordion, and Zeke Mazurek on fiddle.
There is so much thoughtfulness in these recordings that I'm going to seek out his first four albums, too.
[ by John Varner ]
Check out his website.