Tim Booth


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Former James vocalist Tim Booth travels a mostly bombastic course on his first solo effort. As the album title suggests, Booth seems eager to strip his influences to the bone, as he sticks mostly to bluesy song structures and soul-revealing philosophy. But while his passionate vocal delivery suggests the blues, the bombastic production suggests something else: that too little time was spent on songwriting and too much time was spent adding heavy samples and guitar effects. For an artist who's flourished at the production hands of Brian Eno, he feels somewhat stymied here working with co-producer Lee Baker. The reliance on atmosphere speaks more of laziness or haste or simply weak production. Ultimately, Booth's angelic voice reaches through the dynamics, but at times he gets trampled under the overall sonic assault. Of Bone's 12 songs, it's safe to say that half feel like B-sides or fall victim to the production, and half of them are worthy of his former band. The standouts include the pretty, swirling "Redneck," the experimental and somewhat fascinating falsetto-fest "Love Hard," the Vangelis meets James gentler cousin to "Sit Down" that is "Falling Down," and the heavenly "Down to the Sea," which could easily be mistaken for a full-fledged James song. While the heavy-handed production is an issue, Booth never stumbles too much and there's certainly nothing embarrassing to be found here, and any of Booth's legion fans will forgive or ignore the loud clich├ęs inherent in this sort of production. Of special note to admirers of Booth's collaboration with Angelo Badalamenti (Booth & the Bad Angel) is a reworked and stripped take on "Fall in Love." This revised version plays like a cooing lullaby, as Booth offers his most tender vocals, and the sound samples and heavy mixing effects disappear altogether. This quiet song feels odd smack dab in the middle of its bombastic peers, and since all Booth fans will be familiar with the superior original version, it would have perhaps made more sense as a hidden track. Bone certainly isn't Booth's finest hour, but it's a solid launching point for a solo career. With more finely honed songs and cleaner production, he should be able to improve on this blueprint with future efforts.

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