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Seth Walker

Time Can Change

(Roe; US: 19 Jun 2012; UK: 19 Jun 2012)

Time Can Change is clearly the product of a talented musician. Yet it’s not exciting, it’s not innovative, and it’s certainly not original. The musician responsible for this beguiling mess is Seth Walker, who’s only the most recent laid-back singer-songwriter to put out a meandering and uninspired release. While there’s occasional bursts of ideas that do feel unique, they don’t happen nearly enough and they’re always either over-done or quickly buried. There’s virtually nothing on this release that makes it stand out from any other full-length to be spawned from this particular beach-side stoner branch of the genre. There’s small inflections of jazz, lounge, and blues but overall, it’s mostly just ridiculously lazy folk-pop.


Starting with “Love Is Through With Me” Time Can Change‘s easygoing pace never lets up. It never loses its focus or its sense of apathy. There’s not a whole lot that captures the attention in the records early portion, instead offering just fleeting moments of pleasantness by virtue of organ tone or the gospel choir in “Stronger Than You Need to Be”, one of the record’s best songs. Time Can Change never really reaches a peak close to the moderate one on that particular track, which is a major disappointment. “Stronger Than You Need to Be” is especially notable because it shows Walker’s willingness to experiment with things outside of the genre’s standard too-comfortable zone. Yet, when he takes risks he transcends it and can offer something unique and substantial rather than peddling bland retreads that become increasingly difficult to differentiate between.


It becomes fairly clear with “In the Meantime” that Time Can Change‘s saving grace is the incorporation of the organ and it’s tasteful arrangements. Walker’s songwriting is passable and his song structures are, for the most part, uninteresting. “In the Meantime” is one of the exceptions which, considering its heavy reliance on the organ and the re-appearance of the gospel choir, shouldn’t be a surprise. Unfortunately, it’s one of only two songs on the record that rivals “Stronger Than You Need to Be”. After that the songs just kind of float along like stale pot-smoke, adding the obligatory reggae influence heavily at various points along the way.


There’s only one surprise that Time Can Change offers up in its final stretch, which comes in the form of the jazzy “Something’s Come Over Me”. It’s a beautiful Tom Waits-esque piece that eventually does succumb to a watered-down take on that style after a promising start. Yet, even with its failure to capitalize on its promise, it stands out as one of Time Can Change‘s brightest spots. “What Now” pulls essentially the same trick, only instead of Small Change style jazz, it’s old Chicago style blues. While the songs formula’s are essentially the same, the jazzier mode works slightly better for Walker, though it wouldn’t be difficult to see him pursuing the blues route instead.


Time Can Change unsurprisingly ends on one of it’s most bland and conventional songs, “More Days Like This”, which is a basic encapsulation of a lifeless sub-genre. “More Days Like This” also acts as a fairly excellent summation of Time Can Change and it’s various flaws while also acting as a reminder that in the back half of the record, Walker all but abandoned the gospel influence that did wonders for the front half. There’s ample evidence on Time Can Change that suggests Walker is a skilled musician with unique ideas, I just wish he’d break away from seemingly self-imposed constraints and actually pursue them. Until that happens, I can’t see him making anything beyond stereotypical beach-side singer-songwriter material.

Rating:

Steven is a writer, musician, and filmmaker from Wisconsin who has spent his fair share of time in the entertainment trenches. He frequently contributes reviews and interviews to Playground Misnomer, which can be accessed here: http://www.playgroundmisnomer.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @unbusyinwi.


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Seth Walker - Stronger Than You Need To Be
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