For more than 20 years, Tim Easton has made albums that blend folk, heartland rock, and blues. In that time, he has released nine albums and had the opportunity to play alongside such greats as Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams. In those nine albums, Easton has shown himself to be a songwriter who can paint vivid images easy for the listener to relate to.
Like everyone during the pandemic, he had plenty of time to reflect on his life – and there was a lot of material for reflection. The pandemic also afforded him the time to write his new album, You Don’t Really Know Me. Of the new album, he said, “In some ways, it’s a recovery album,” says the singer/songwriter, who wrote the bulk of during the national quarantine of 2020. “Not only recovery from a vice, but also recovery from a divorce and a destructive, rambling life of self-centered gratification. It’s a peaceful, positive, loving album — an album about personal revolution.”
You can hear some similarities to Bob Dylan in the vocals. It comes through particularly strong in “Speed Limit”. If someone played the first couple lines of the song, you might guess that you hear Dylan’s voice. Easton shows a similar knack for writing thought-provoking lyrics in this song too. The chorus contains the line, “When the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of making change.” It’s a line that is good enough to inspire self-examination in the listener.
The album contains two songs about singers who passed away recently. “Voice on the Radio” is a tribute to John Prine. The melody is folky with good picking on the acoustic guitar and sounds like something Prine might have written. The song contains a sense of gratitude for being able to enjoy Prine’s songwriting abilities. Toward the end of the song, Easton sings about how the voice on the radio can lift your blues and get you high. It is likely to arouse a hearty “Amen!” from some listeners.
“River Where Time Was Born” is a tribute to Justin Townes Earle. The melody is folky with a bit of Randy Newman vibe running through it. He sings, “I had a friend. He died so young. He never had a choice since he was born. He went underneath the dark, cold water, and time rolled on.” It is a moving and poetic tribute to a talented songwriter.
“Festival Song” is a message of hope. The song’s story is about a band showing up at a festival and seeing a favorite group perform. That track not only embraces the feeling of seeing a great band in a festival setting it also encapsulates the hope that comes from attending a festival. You can hear it especially when he sings, “When we all come together, it feels like the world is gonna be all right.” That’s a message that will hit home for any fan of live music.
You Don’t Really Know Me by Tim Easton is a pensive and reflective album. Perhaps the real achievement is being introspective without dwelling on sad themes. He was right when he said this is a peaceful, positive album, and that vibe is something we can all use right about now.