Second Avenue Records
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Canadian singer songwriters, from the famous ones like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen and Gordon Lightfoot to the more obscures like David Wiffen, Colin Linden and Stephen Fearing, are highly individual voices in the folk field. In many cases they have been pioneers and teachers to many Americans and English acts.
Tim Harrison is in line with all the names mentioned above. His music is very poetic, and probably like nothing you've heard before. It's not that you can't feel influences, I heard a bit of Kris Kristofferson as well as The Eagles in this cd, but there is no way to say that he is pupil of someone. His music verges on the Irish scene, without any hint of new age music. His words are highly philosophical and many of them give a feeling of loss, as well as longing.
After 1997's critically acclaimed Bridges (his fourth album), Harrison decided to reissue his first two LP's from the eighties on CD. Instead of doing it the conventional way he decided to rerecord the best five songs from those LP's and add 5 new songs. I guess this is the reason why this cd is self titled---it is Harrison's past and present.
The first song Maguire opens as if it was a simple recording done in a bar, but the song soon changes direction with the appearance of a full-blown band. It is a song about Glenn Maguire, a songwriter friend of Harrison's. Harrison sings the magic in his poetry:
|You sang with pride and grace |
Of trials that we face
And ballads that would stir
The son of the Clydeside carpenter - with holy vision
This song sure made me want to listen to Maguire, and I even looked at the credits to see if Harrison had included a cover of one of his songs. No, he didn't. The liner notes announce that a CD of Maguire's music is on the way, so we'll have to wait.
The last song, In The Barroom Light, is about the ghost of a dead person going through his streets, begging to be remembered. His only consolation is:
|But it looks alright |
In the barroom light
Where the world seems to just disappear
You can laugh at it all
As you stare at the wall
And think you've got nothing to fear.
Harrison's voice is not a really great one; it is limited, but effective, in most of the songs. Sometimes the production could make his voice more clear, as it gets lost behind the musicians. His voice, as I said, reminded me of Kristofferson.
This CD is highly recommended, I would also recommend his previous CD, Bridges, which is slightly better.
A word about the cover of his CD's, I really liked them. They are all impressionistic paintings by Diann Haist. Thus, in a music genre where album covers seem to repeat themselves (marketing, isn't it?), Harrison's covers are a refreshing sight.
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Edited by David Schultz