As Tim Easton ably proves, there is indeed more to Columbus, Ohio than Ohio State University. This solo album is the first since Easton formed the (now defunct?) Wilco-meets-Rolling Stones band the Haynes Boys. The feel is a familiar one: there’s hints of Steve Earle, John Prine, Willie Nelson, and even Dylan throughout the ten songs included. But Easton is neither indistinguishable nor a mere amalgam of countrified folk artists.
Years of performing in Europe as a street musician for his bare necessities (alongside the likes of Beck) gave Easton a feel for presenting music in an engaging manner. That is the biggest problem with the Haynes’ Boys recorded output – it doesn’t have the same energy or feel of their live shows. This album is much more of a performance.
Easton has a slight twang to his gravely vocals that at times sounds like it might be a little forced. Regardless, it does fit the music which, despite ranging from the quiet (“All the Pretty Girls Leave Town,” “Special 20”) to the more raucous (“Just Like Home,” “Help Me Find My Space Girl”), melds Midwestern folk-rock with Southern ambiance. Easton lyrics are very narrative and centered mainly around relationships with women.
This album is a pleasant blend of rock, folk, blues, and country that tends more towards the mellow spectrum while keeping its emotion. The backing musicians give it a cohesive feel that sounds consistent throughout while venturing into different, but related genres. It’s definitely worth a listen for fans of the troubadour musician.
Heathen Records, P.O. Box 82341, Columbus, OH 43202