Music

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
Amazon
iTunes

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.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.