Thursday, January 27, 2022

Tim Gartland: “Truth” (2022) CD Review

Tim Gartland is a blues singer, songwriter and harmonica player, currently based in Nashville (though he was a part of the Boston music scene for a long time before his move to Music City). In addition to performing and recording, Tim Gartland has published an instructional book titled The Talking Harmonica: Harmonica As A Second Language, which has gone through several editions. So when it comes to harmonica, this guy knows his stuff. And that’s clear the moment you put on one of his albums. His new release, Truth, features all original material, written or co-written by Tim Gartland. Joining him on this album are Kenneth Blevins on drums, Steve Mackey on bass, Robert Frahm on guitar, Wendy Moten on backing vocals, Kevin McKendree on piano and organ, Ray Desilvis on acoustic guitar and slide guitar, and Bryan Brock on percussion.

The album kicks off with a lively number titled “Don’t Mess With My Heart,” which features, in addition to the expected excellent harmonica work, some really good, rocking stuff on keys. Also, I love those backing vocals echoing certain phrases, such as “tables are turned” and “with my heart.” And check out these lines: “Washed away with the tears/Is all the love I had for you.” Now that is a great lyric for the end of a relationship. This song was written by Tim Gartland and Pat Gartland. That’s followed by another energetic number, “Leave Well Enough Alone,” with a delicious groove. This one was written by Tim Gartland and Dave Duncan. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “You got a good woman, both feet on the ground/Why mess it up by dogging around/Don’t waste your time trying to get with Mrs. Jones/You’ve got to leave well enough alone.” But it is that harmonica lead halfway through that is the focus for me. Wonderful stuff. And that is followed by a great lead on guitar. “Staying put beats going in reverse/Doing more might just make it worse/You better leave well enough alone.”

Things mellow out a bit for “The Thing About The Truth,” the closest this album has to a title track. Truth has certainly been on our minds lately, hasn’t it? We had four years of official dishonesty, and those mendacious creeps didn’t have the decency to disappear after losing power, so we’re still dealing with them. In fact, they continue to shout the lie that they won the last election, bunch of pathetic scoundrels. Anyway, this is a cool track. “Facts are facts/Ain’t no spinning that/That’s the thing about the truth.” Ah, tell that to yapping lizard Kellyanne “Bowling Green Massacre” Conway. “A world that’s lit by gaslight/Casts a shadow of doubt/You can’t hide the truth forever/It eventually comes out.” Trouble is, even though the truth is coming out, the lunatics and imbeciles on the right don’t believe it. And what can we do about that? I love that back and forth between harmonica and electric guitar toward the end of this track. “The Thing About The Truth” was written by Tim Gartland and Karen Leipziger, and is one of my personal favorites.

“Cloudy With A Chance Of The Blues” is a totally fun number. Yes, it’s one of the sixty-three billion blues songs that begin with the line “Woke up this morning,” but that’s okay. This one features some hopping stuff on keys. It was written by Tim Gartland and Kevin McKendree, as was the track that follows it, “Outta Sight Outta Mind.” From the moment “Outta Sight Outta Mind” begins, I am totally digging it. It has that familiar blues vibe, and opens with some good work on harmonica. Things get even better as soon as the vocals come in, in large part because the first lines are echoed by the backing vocalist in an appealing way. Everything about this track is working so well. It is smooth and soulful and delicious, and the series of leads on this track is one of my favorite sections of the entire album. This song is wonderful from beginning to end, without a doubt a highlight of the disc. That’s followed by “One Love Away,” which has an easygoing vibe and features some good work on guitar. It was written by Tim Gartland and Ray Desilvis.

“Love Knocks Once” has a cheerful sound right from its start, and is a song to get you smiling and tapping along, with a groove that might remind you of some 1960s material, sort of a Motown vibe. This delightful song was written by Tim Gartland. That’s followed by “Pause,” a mellower, kind of sad tune about a relationship in trouble, and wanting to hit “Pause” or “Reset” on it. “It doesn’t take long/For you to tell me I’m wrong/Gonna need some space/How’d we get to this place.” And I love these lines: “No, I ain’t giving up/You’re just wearing me down.” This excellent song was written by Tim Gartland and Dennis Drummond. Tim Gartland then brings us back up with a catchy, totally fun tune titled “Probably Something.” “It’ll leave you high and dry with the same leaky faucet/If it’s too good to be true, then it’s likely a lie.” I think it would be damn near impossible to dislike this song. It was written by Tim Gartland and Al Hill.

How many times do you say to yourself, “I wish I could go back”? Well, in “Wish I Could Go Back,” Tim Gartland tells us, “You can’t ever go back/That train is gone.” Yup, that’s just about right, at least until each of us is equipped with a special DeLorean. This track was written by Tim Gartland and Ray Desilvis. It’s followed by “Mind Your Own Business,” another of my favorites. It is a lively, totally cool song, and with lyrics that I’m guessing most folks are going to appreciate, particularly in these days when, thanks to social media, everyone has a need to express an opinion on every damn thing that everyone else does. “If I want your opinion, I’ll ask you first/‘Cause if I listen to you, things just get worse/Mind your own business/I’ll tend to mine.” I love it. And I love the backing vocalists echoing “Mind your own business.” You just might find yourself singing along, or perhaps shouting these lines. I bet we all have some people we’d like to play this song for. “I don’t need your views on how I wrecked my life/Take a look at yourself, that’s my advice.” And check out that work on keys. This song was written by Tim Gartland and Dave Smith. The album concludes with another fun tune, “Save Sammy Some,” the album’s only instrumental number, a good little jam written by Tim Gartland and Ray Desilvis.

CD Track List

  1. Don’t Mess With My Heart
  2. Leave Well Enough Alone
  3. The Thing About The Truth
  4. Cloudy With A Chance Of The Blues
  5. Outta Sight Outta Mind
  6. One Love Away
  7. Love Knocks Once
  8. Pause
  9. Probably Something
  10. Wish I Could Go Back
  11. Mind Your Own Business
  12. Save Sammy Some

Truth is scheduled to be released on March 18, 2022 through Taste Good Music.

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