Tim Easton Reissues
by Bob Pomeroy
Tim Easton has been playing Americana music since before it was given that title. He’s been diligently working that space between rock, country, and blues since the mid-1990s, when he played with Haynes Boys. When Haynes Boys went their separate ways, Easton embarked on a solo career. For artists working on the fringe of “popular” music, it’s hard to keep albums in circulation. Black Mesa is coming to the rescue, reissuing two formative Easton albums: his solo debut, Special 20 (2002) and his 2013 Nashville underground album, Not Cool.
Special 20 was released in 1998 on Easton’s own Heathen Records label. The title track is a loping country blues shuffle. Easton sings about a fragile relationship with a passionate woman, “If you’re not mine to hold, then I can’t stop you if you want to go. Special 20 do you want to go?” Personally, I like the rockers like “Torture Comes to Mind” and “Just Like Home” best. Special 20 was recorded in Nashville while Easton was trying to break into that scene, so there are some down-home country folk tunes here. “All The Pretty Girls Leave Town” is a nice lament about how small towns are dying. All the pretty girls are leaving town for opportunities in the big city. Tim concludes the song asking “how long will you stay in this town?”
Easton didn’t stay in Nashville that long. After the release of Special 20, Tim moved to Los Angeles and got a publishing deal with EMI and a record deal with New West Records. He stayed out in California for well over a decade. When he came back to Nashville in 2013, he wasn’t trying to be the new kid in town anymore. The Nashville cats are going to do their thing, and Tim was going to do his. His thing turned out to be a rockabilly flavored record called Not Cool.
Everything you need to know about Not Cool is summed up in the song “Crazy Motherfucker from Shelby, Ohio.” Easton paints himself as a rule-breaking scofflaw doing whatever he damn well pleases. That’s exactly what he does. The whole album is fired up on old time rock-and-roll moonshine. “Don’t Lie” kicks the doors open with a bluesy swagger and hot licks. “Don’t lie to me, gonna come back on you.” “Troubled Times” follows with a rockabilly love song. “Little Doggie (1962)” takes the ghost of Sun-era Elvis out for a spin on the dance floor, while “Four Queens” channels some New Orleans blues.
Being a Nashville record, Tim can’t avoid letting some country slip into the mix. The title track, “Not Cool” is an acoustic heartbreak song. The album ends with a lilting bluegrass-flavored instrumental, “Knock Out Roses.”
Black Mesa is bringing these long out-of-print releases back into the light. At the same time, Tim Easton is carrying on touring and releasing new music. His most recent release was North American Songwriter.
Featured image of Tim Easton by Madison Thorn.