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Tim Easton: Break Your Mother's Heart


Tim Easton

Album: Break Your Mother's Heart
Label: New West

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Since roots-rock tends to rely on classically structured songwriting and minimal instrumentation, good roots-rockers typically get praised for coming up with a few catchy melodies, a handful of hearty guitar riffs, and consistently vivid lyrics–all traits that can take time to penetrate. By genre standards, Tim Easton's third album, Break Your Mother's Heart, is a success, but it also possesses an immediacy that transcends formal limitations. The disc belongs to the select group of roots-rock records with the potential to appeal to more than just No Depression cultists. Easton leads off solidly with "Poor, Poor L.A.," a Dylan-esque ramble that's partially about the inadequacy of Dylan-esque rambles. The self-criticism invigorates. Heart is clearly a West Coast record, right down to required guest appearances by star studio-rats Jim Keltner and Mike Campbell, but aside from a few slick, Michael Penn-esque tracks, Easton retains a gruff, plainspoken rural disposition. That lends credibility to a sweetly tear-jerking character sketch like "John Gilmartin," about an injured working man who drinks away his workman's comp, and it gives gruff ballads like "Hanging Tree" and the sprawling epic "Watching The Lightning" the raw country tinge that adds a region-specific dimension. A couple of overly conventional tracks in the middle of Break Your Mother's Heart hurt a little, but Easton rallies with the album-closer, "True Ways," which requires only his voice, his acoustic guitar, and upright bass from Chris Burney to generate a spooked vibe of honesty at the end of a long dark night. A hundred other troubadours could pull off this kind of trick, but after an album of fetching variations on the same old twang, Easton earns the awe.