Tim Easton “You Don’t Really Know Me”
Timeout for a lifestyle change.
It may seem odd to say, but for some folks the pandemic, with all its restrictions and limitations, may have come along at a good time. A chance to slow down, take stock, reflect on life, clean up the act if needs be. Tim Easton, who has been roots-rocking his way across the globe these past twenty years certainly thinks so, and has produced an album conceived during lockdown which reflects on how he arrived at a personal crossroads after perhaps too much damaging behaviour. The album explores his journey towards a better path; when things “get a little blurry” leading to “burned bridges and broken relationships” it is probably time to take stock.
The songs on ‘You Don’t Really Know Me’ showcase Easton’s recovery from “a destructive rambling life of self-centred gratification” but more importantly focus on the acknowledgement of thanks after shedding that old life’s skin. The title track opener is a typical roots rocking number, all slightly dirty guitars and gravelly vocals honed through years of constant touring, an autobiographical tale of growing up as the youngest of 7….“sisters taught me how to tie my shoes/brothers taught me the deep river blues/one told me I could write a book/the other showed me how to bait a hook.” The autobiographical theme continues into ‘Real Revolution’, with the wider look at rebirth, redemption and personal rediscovery….real revolution comes from the inside, from the heart.
A couple of tracks pay moving tributes to musical heavyweights sadly lost in the past year. ‘Voice on the Radio’ is written in memory of John Prine, with a simple acoustic guitar, Prine-style….”calm and sweet and cool and low/voice on the radio gets me by.” And ‘River Where Time Was Born’ remembers Justin Townes Earle, a typical JTE almost trad jazz tinged song, accordion, simple guitar with gospel ‘n’ all and the reference to his great work….“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….”
There are a number of interesting influences peeping through the songs; ‘Son My Son’ is a Leadbelly-influenced protest song, and ‘Speed Limit’ is reminiscent of the Chilli Peppers ‘Californication.’ Musically, it’s generally what would be expected of an album like this, lots of acoustic and rockier guitars, mandolin, organ features heavily in places, harmonica and even a na-na-na to sing along to on ‘Festival Song’, which extols the virtues of live festival music with a group of mates in a field somewhere….who hasn’t felt….“when we all come together/it feels the world is going to be alright.” However, unusually for an americana track, a Mellotron features heavily alongside acoustic guitar and bass on ‘Real Revolution’ and well, just works.
The album was produced with Brad Jones and Robin Eaton who worked with Easton on debut album, ‘Special 20’ and it is a very welcome return. Despite the introspective approach to the songs, it is a very positive album, with excellent tunes and a strong lyrical base. It almost makes one want to cheer for the pandemic (OK, maybe not.)