Tim Lee

Crawdad

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The cover of "I Wish I Was Your Mother" that opens Crawdad does an excellent job of stating the themes of the album: wistful, a bit bleak, with any happiness and success limited and brief. Put urban settings, a piano, and a low, growling voice to these lyrics and you'd have a Tom Waits album -- but this is a Tim Lee album, so the dark themes are set to hook-filled and folksy jangle pop. The bright, upbeat instrumentation gives a sense of triumph to little pleasures like riding to a carnival in a friend's new car or spending a night in a bar with a loved one. What lifts the album above the ordinary is the way Lee's expressive voice wraps around the poetic, colorful lyrics. The musicianship throughout is impeccable but not showy, leaving Lee's world-weary tenor to carry the important stuff. The standout track is "Like Sand," a grim meditation on the futility of human existence transformed into a country-inflected romp with splendid fiddle work by Peter Lessier. Crawdad is an album of consistently high quality, one deserving of multiple listenings to savor the emotional nuances of each cut.

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