Roots music column, March 19   Leave a comment


Sorry for the lack of posts recently; work has kept me hoping. Perhaps I’ll do some updating this weekend. In this week’s column in the Red Deer Advocate (originally published March 19,2010) I advance the coming roots music calendar and feature a review of Tim Harwill’s new collection. Harwill is an Albertan and this makes two columns in a row where I’ve featured Alberta talent, something I would like to do more often. Best, Donald- and thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee

Tim Harwill & Friends

The Wander Man Revisited

Self-released

Thorsby troubadour Tim Harwill’s third collection of life-infused country music has arrived.

Harwill, a veteran of the taverns and halls that make up the North American honky tonk circuit, has recorded an album that should appeal to all looking for the homespun essence of country and roots music.

Harwill’s voice isn’t especially dramatic, but it is personable and gently identifiable with a stylistic catch in his voice and a lurch in his rhythm.

Traveling toward a dream with resulting isolation is a theme that recurs across the album. Only in a finely crafted song is it not only accepted but expected that a fella will act like a jerk, break a few windows, and yet still be sympathetic enough for listeners to care that he’s “lonesome, heartbroke and then some,” which is the case in Barely Alive.

Harwill’s vocal phrasing is terrific, effective and distinctive on songs such as No TV Show. He mixes some southern country soul into his presentations, causing Larry Jon Wilson, Eddie Hinton, and Mel Street to come to mind.

The Alberta-based instrumentalists shine with harmonica punctuating The Road Less Traveled and the insistent drumming of Sittin’ in a Hotel Room serving a similar function. Vocal guests Steve Young (yes, that Steve Young), James Talley, Tim Hus, and Delores Hershey make memorable contributions.

Harwill’s manner lends a simple sophistication to words, less poetic than Ian Tyson perhaps, more workmanlike that those of Guy Clark, but insightful and revealing of the truths long withheld. Whether autobiographical or not, the album’s title track provides a back story that could flesh-out a secondary Crazy Heart character.

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