Tim Gartland- Truth review

Tim Gartland Truth TimGartland.com

Tim Gartland plays the blues the way we at Fervor Coulee like them: close enough to the roots that we don’t get distracted by rock ‘n’ roll guitars and drums, and relevant enough that we care what is being expressed.

“There is truth in the heart of the beholder,” Gartland moans on the title track, and it is readily apparent that the sentiment is vital not only to the current project but more generally to the Nashville-based harmonica player’s mission.

As he did on the album that introduced this blues veteran to me (2019’s Satisfied), Gartland wrote or co-wrote all the songs comprising Truth. They are a varied and stellar lot, songs of considered insight lyrically and musically. Not one to bury himself in the past, Gartland’s songs reflect contemporary circumstance, a blend of blues, country, soul, and what we used to call roots rock.

Going back to the title track, Gartland (and co-writer Karen Leipziger) profess, “You can’t hide the truth forever, It eventually comes out…facts are facts, there’s no spinning that—that’s the thing about the truth.” From Gartland’s lips to the politicians’ and the media’s ears.

“Outta Sight Outta Mind,” “Probably Something,” and “Cloudy With a Chance of the Blues” perhaps offer less cerebral fare, but are distinctive in their approaches and cleverly reveal insights more subtly. On songs including “One Love Away,” “Love Knocks Once,” “I Wish I Could Go Back,” and “Don’t Mess With My Heart,” Gartland and his co-writers tap into the unlimited hope held within emotion. “Outta Sight Outta Mind” features some nice guitar notes from Robert Frahm, as do other songs.

One of the things I most appreciate about Gartland, once one moves past his groovy harp playing and his band’s obvious chops, is his unhurried manner: he’ll get you there, but it will be in his own measured time. When I last wrote about Gartland, I compared his vocal approach to Tom Wilson (Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, Lee Harvey Osmond, Junkhouse, and his own damned self) and in my opinion that remains a fine comparison—give a listen to the excellent “Pause” and “Mind Your Own Business” for evidence.

Gartland’s rhythm section of Kenneth Blevins (drums) and Steve Mackey (bass, and who handled the same on Satisfied) is stellar. Also returning from the last album are producer Kevin McKendree (piano and organ as well as background vocals), Frahm (guitar), Ray Desilvis (acoustic and slide guitar, background vocals), and Wendy Moten (backing vocals). Bryan Brock adds percussion to a couple songs.

The blues is a deep well, one filled with an elixir healing wounds and providing faith going back generations. Through his honest and genuine approach, Tim Gartland has tapped into the soothing remedy this music can offer. Truth provides listeners with thoughtful words and enticing rhythms that will provide hours of listening enjoyment. You may not know him now, but by the conclusion of “Save Sammy Some,” you will.

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