Music

Sally Timms: In the World of Him

Marc Hogan

Sally Timms

In the World of Him

Label: Touch & Go
US Release Date: 2004-09-14
UK Release Date: 2004-09-13
Amazon
iTunes

Gender-bending is as old as performance, dating back long before Ray Davies wondered why Lola walked like a woman but talked like a man. On In a World of Him, longtime Mekons vocalist Sally Timms tries walking a mile in a man's shoes, covering nine songs written by men without changing the gender pronouns. As usual, her distinctly English take on Appalachian country via crunching, squealing post-punk will turn a few hipsters' ears, but even her unforgettable vocals can't keep this album from being a little disappointing.

For starters, the girl-singing-boy's-songs conceit isn't exactly novel. As recently as 2001, Tori Amos performed songs by Tom Waits, Neil Young, the Velvet Underground and Eminem for her Strange Little Girls album. Amos got the idea from Canadian singer/songwriter Emm Gryner, whose Girl Versions turned tunes by Blur, Fugazi, and the Clash into piano ballads. Besides, Timms herself doesn't bother to bring wholly new material to this outing; her version of "Corporal Chalkie" is almost identical to the one she sang on the Mekons' Punk Rock earlier this year. Yeah, it's an irresistibly corrosive tune, whoever sings it, but on an album with only nine tracks, it's hard to see why she'd duplicate a track her fans probably just bought a few months ago (for the record, the rawer Punk Rock version is better).

Amos's album exposed the brutal ways men treat women in song, while Gryner took a more lighthearted approach (she also did "Pour Some Sugar on Me"). Timms celebrates her subjects, imbuing them with mournful dignity. Hers would be the house band at an indie-rock wake somewhere in West Virginia. A bunch of Mekons would likely be there, and they show up on In the World of Him here, too: Jon Langford reprises the spoken word bit on "Corporal Chalkie", and the whole crew backs "Bomb", a cynical synth-laden take on the Mekons' nugget. Of course, that's probably because the version is almost the same as the one on the Mekons' United in 1995, which the band recycled again in a twangier version for 1999's I Have Been to Heaven and Back, Vol. 1. It's a great song, however they perform it, but it's as stale as video-store candy. Of course, Timms sings on all three recordings, and once again, the current version is the blandest.

She's a talented vocalist and interpreter, so the album is not without charm. Her cover of Ryan Adams's "Fools We Are as Men" has a world-weary soulfulness it's tough for anyone who's heard Rock N Roll to imagine Adams still possessing (prove me wrong, Ryan; prove me wrong). But overall, the disc feels depressingly gimmicky: an underwhelming entry in the catalogue of a singer who should know better.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

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.