Tim Easton


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For his first release in over three years, and his third for the New West label, singer/songwriter Tim Easton goes even further back to his roots. An album made on the road, its 13 songs were recorded in six studios in six different states. Still, it maintains a distinctive thread provided by Easton's unplugged, unvarnished approach and smooth yet earthy vocals. Various members of the Jayhawks contribute, but like Tift Merritt, whose barely-there backing vocals on the lovely "Next to You" don't add much personality, they only bring muted accompaniment to what is very much a solo project. Only Lucinda Williams' trademarked whisky-soured harmonies on "Back to the Pain" convey another distinctive voice to the mix. Easton sticks primarily to emotional ballads, with even his own strumming guitar and occasional percussion relegated to the background as he sings primarily of alienation and lost or waning love. The album's generally dark, somber lyrics mesh well with his doe-eyed sleepy voice and the laconic tempo of the songs. "C-Dub" and "News Blackout" return him to Bringing It All Back Home-era Bob Dylan with prominent harmonica and political lyrics on the latter that creep into the personal as he closes the song with "Sweetheart, please, please take my hand." There is a lonely, solemn quality to the unaccompanied "J.P.M.F.Y.F." (short for "Jesus Protect Me from Your Followers") that sounds like Easton strumming in his bedroom as he quietly lashes out at those who are "spitting in the face of love with one hand on the Bible and the other in the purse." The closing cover of the blues standard "Sitting on Top of the World" brings the disc to a resigned and tranquil conclusion. Easton shoots his bullets with a silencer on the scraggly, moving, and introspective Ammunition, a personal album that takes a few spins, or more, to appreciate.

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