Album Review

Tim Easton

Tim Easton - Porcupine

Tim Easton plays and sings like an old man. For the record, that's meant as praise, not a taunt. He often sounds as if he's channeling any number of discovered-late bluesmen, as well as Doc Watson and everybody's favorite great-uncle Bob Dylan (especially right after Uncle Bob went electric in his younger days). His voice has always carried a well-seasoned quality a little catch, maybe a little healthy despair tucked into one corner. Even when he was a Haynes Boy, he came off like a Haynes Middle-Aged Guy. Again, that's a compliment. And Easton's a wanderer, putting on more miles than most folks of his non-advanced years. All of those components come together to make Porcupine Easton's finest album yet. "The Young Girls", the Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee-honoring "Stormy", and "Northbound" all celebrate the prowl and thump at the heart of the blues. Elsewhere, he shares heart-earned wisdom ("There's only two things left in this world/love and the lack thereof") on "Broke My Heart", an amazingly appealing riffy rocker, and performs the verbal tricks necessary to rhyme "turpentine" and "Argentine" with "porcupine" on the title track. There are a couple notes from the road too, in the form of the blood-stained postcard "Baltimore" (putting him in the company of Harlan Howard, Randy Newman, and perhaps his closest musical kin, Peter Case, as artists with a song by that title) and the album-capping "Goodbye Amsterdam", an orchestral-pop farewell in three movements. Among those supporting Easton on his journeys are producer Brad Jones, New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown, and Kenny Vaughn, who was a guitar hero long before that term got trademarked. "Woke up this morning with an old song in your head," Easton sings to kick off the record. Then he makes a dozen new songs feel and connect like old songs. And, yep, that's a good thing.