Sally Timms' In the World of Him is easily her most provocative record. It is a collection of songs almost exclusively by men, sung from their perspective on various themes ranging from war, abandonment, death, marriage, and the inability to communicate emotions inherent in those experiences. Timms co-produced the album with Justin Asher, and Johnny Dowd (who play on the set as well). Various Timms' mates from the Mekons are present here too, in Tom Greenhalgh, Jon Rauhouse, and Jon Langford. The record is skeletal, slightly out of kilter, timeless, eerie, and utterly beautiful. Though written by seven different songwriters, the feel of the disc is something akin, albeit it in a very modern way, to Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's cabaret music. Decadence, malaise, tragedy and brokenness hover about these proceedings like ghosts. The album opens with Langford's "Sentimental Marching Song," with shifty keyboards, a xylorimba, breakbeats, and a synthed-out bassline that feels unsettling at first, but Timms sweet balladic vocal juxtaposes wonderfully with the synthetic instrumentation. The lyrics are nightmarish, wonderfully perverse and strangely vulnerable. The Mekons "Corporal Chalkie," a wartime dirge, follows with Asher's organ, a skittering, military-styled snare by Willie B and Dowd's guitars stretching the elegiac nature of the tune to the breaking point. Mark Eitzel's "God's Eternal Love," is haunted bewilderment and a hunted sense of acceptance. Electronic sounds -- a whispering guitar and sporadic percussive effects -- adorn Timms' empathetic vocal. Dowd's "139 Hernalser Gürtel," a perverse sexual circus of a waltz is fueled by an organ that sounds more like a calliope, and ends with a chorus that could be sung amongst weary, drunken friends. Timms delivers it with a particularly wasted savoir fare. The Mekons kick it on the mutant rock & roll of "Bomb." "I'm Just a Man" is the most surprising and beautiful song here, written by eccentric British songman Kevin Coyne. With a straight-up country-rock arrangement, taken just outside enough to be perverse, Timms and the band wrench every ounce of the writer's nakedly honest poetry form the tune. In the plaintive grain of the words: "It's not that I want to hold you ransom with foolish lies or lies, lies that tie you down/It's not that I don't want to marry you/because marrying would mean that I'd have to chain you not choose you/chain you not choose you/I love you and that alone I want to say and I've never wanted to say anything any other way/Than the way/I am saying it now/This is the way I really feel/And if I sound a little confused/It's because I'm so, oh, feeling for you/Can you understand?" ring with an empathy and revelation of the manner in which men wish they could speak to women. Timms' own version of the nursery rhyme "Tommy Tucker," which commences with her sing-songing the rhyme and moving into a beautiful song about its subject, now grown, alienated, and lonely. Hands down, In the World of Him is Timms' masterpiece.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek