Tim Grimm

The Back Fields

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There are those who think Tim Grimm is a remarkable American roots artist. And when he's good, he's very good indeed. A few tracks on The Back Fields, such as "Sometimes Trouble Is a Gift" and the title cut, reach that high standard. In them you can hear echoes of Springsteen's acoustic work, with a stark power and sympathetic observation. At other times, however, you feel Grimm is almost there, but gave up before the final few edits, settling for something that's a bit less. That's nowhere more apparent than on "Celia Rose," which has all the makings of a wonderful folk song, but lets itself down by being too loose in the melody and too complacent in the words -- much, sadly, is also true of "Rescue the Ghosts." Not that this is a bad or even average album. Grimm can write a very good song (when he steers away from emotional clich├ęs like "The People's Highway" or "Everybody's Gone Crazy"), and his deep, weary voice can project a lyric well. With some sympathetic musicians he has good arrangements to frame his performances. But ultimately, it seems impossible not to reflect on what this album might have been if he'd pushed himself harder.

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