Boyd Tinsley

True Reflections

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Considering that, as of mid-2003, violinist Boyd Tinsley had been the first member of the Dave Mathews Band to release a solo album, True Reflections is a remarkably low-key affair. Ballads dominate the program and even when Matthews himself makes a cameo appearance, along with a very subdued Dirty Dozen Brass Band on the title track, the groove stays bubbling under. Yet that is precisely the appeal of Tinsley's debut. Although he remains predominantly in a somber tone, these songs, all but one original, make the most of his dusky, unpretentious voice and organic compositions. Surprisingly, there are few places to showcase his extensive violin skills in these tightly constructed tunes. Rather, he prefers to keep the few solos short and sweet. On first listen the consistent vibe might seem bland, but after a few plays the songs kick in with subtle, flowing melodies and lazy hypnotic rhythms. "Show Me" features a gorgeous, near angelic vocal accompaniment from Toshi Reagon that, along with the ambling tempo, adds a dreamlike quality that is shared by most of these tracks. Lyrics don't stray far from love-lost/love-found variety, but they perfectly fit the melancholy melodies. Buffalo Springfield seems to be an influence, supported by Tinsley's somber cover of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," which is less Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere than Harvest. He treats the track to an unexpectedly atmospheric rearrangement -- unique and oddly satisfying -- similar to the way he approaches the rest of this engaging debut solo release. In fact, "What a Time for Love" sounds eerily like a lost Young B-side from his Comes a Time period. Not just for Dave Matthews fans, who might find it too pensive and muted, True Reflections is a warm, poignant disc that improves with every spin.

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