Tim Easton: Break Your Mother's Heart

Jason MacNeil

Tim Easton

Break Your Mother's Heart

Label: New West
US Release Date: 2003-02-11
UK Release Date: Available as import

Tim Easton is the sort of singer-songwriter who, if he is fortunate enough, has a long and hard road ahead of him. Like most alt-country stars, starlets and legends that have preceded him, there will be great praise, greater love in his work, but probably not as much to show in his wallet or bank account. The musician's last record The Truth About Us was a gem of an album and gave the troubadour some great recognition. Now, with his latest album, Easton has blended what made him genuine from his beginning with a grittier, edgier, damn-the-torpedoes sound courtesy of several musicians including Heartbreaker Mike Campbell.

Beginning with a nice folk pop sound that comes off not as great as Ryan Adams but eons better than John Mayer, "Poor, Poor LA" shows the singer nestling into his niche. The rambling last verse tends to dampen the song, but the chorus steers it back onto the proper course. It even includes portions of the Eldridge Cleaver composition "Soul on Ice". "Black Hearted Ways" is another gem of a track that resembles a cross between Paul Westerberg and Ron Sexsmith if that's conceivable. "They found you outdoors running with the unfortunates / Now they're sending you back to your black hearted ways," Easton sings with Mike Campbell on guitar and Jim Keltner on drums. "John Gilmartin", penned by one of Easton's friends J.P. Olsen, is your standard laid-back Americana track complete with mandolin.

Listening to Easton's voice, he has a certain Southern softness that isn't found that often. You also get the feeling that an older hit like R. Dean Taylor's "Indiana Wants Me" would become another hit by him. "Hanging Tree" has a lovely flow to it over its five minutes. Very wordy but never boring, this tune brings to mind Dylan's Blood on the Tracks in certain instances because of its confrontational and stark tone. "Why don't you pick up and go / I've already let you know / That I'm nothing for you to trust / And that is the truth about us," is a perfect example of this quality. One of the tracks that doesn't quite fit is the blues acoustic boogie of "Lexington Jail". Similar in tempo to the current Dylan repetoire, its bouncy nature tends to works against itself here.

The album's best song, although several are contending, would have to be "Hummingbird", a slow and melodic track with subtle additions throughout. From the backing harmonies to its subtle drumming, Easton never misses a note. Jai Winding's piano is supported by Easton's harmonica, giving it a certain Springsteen-like charm. And like most good singer-songwriters, Easton can take the oddest subject and coin a tune from it. "Amor Azul", which describes some concoction he drank in Oaxaca, Mexico, is another great number with Greg Leisz on dobro and Jilann O'Neill on backing vocals. One negative to the song is that it could fade out more deliberately than it actually does.

Another somber nugget is "Watching the Lightning", based on a true story Easton was told about the day his last album was released. Although it tends to drag a bit as it comes around the homestretch, the song's lyrical content is powerful and striking. "Everybody always knew that he would die in some fucked up way," he sings, but the repetitive last line diminishes the song, especially being stretched for so long. "Man That You Need", a track that is Easton being a one-man band outfit, isn't as strong as the earlier tunes, but the pristine arrangement and ethereal-like instrumentation diverts one's attention. This album should be of great use to anyone who needs another fix of honest songwriting.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.