REVIEW: Tim Easton’s “Exposition” is Vibrant Personal Testimony with Indefinable texture

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Tim Easton’s Exposition is destined to be memorable for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it’s a vibrant, personal testimony from a songwriter that demands to be heard. The ten songs that comprise the album are undoubtedly unique in their composition and execution. But also, the album will be infamously memorable (particularly for the artist) for the unnecessary toils it’s taken to be heard.

Independent artists today don’t really have it easy. They pursue their dreams while working part-time jobs to pay the rent, saving their pennies to get their songs recorded. They finally lay down these tracks, songs that undoubtedly are a part of them, a sliver of their DNA contained in each one. Only then to struggle to have them heard. They get no radio support, no backing from a powerful big label, and they struggle finding more than a handful of listeners at times. But they soldier on. Even when they find a resource, one that assures them of maximum exposure, they’re often betrayed and let down. Which is exactly what singer songwriter Tim Easton experienced with his current release, Exposition though PledgeMusic. He turned over his master recordings the day the company went public with their financial issues. Like many artists, (the majority independent) they relied on the crowdfunding company to help promote their release, yet now find themselves wondering if they will ever see their money. But here’s the thing, Tim Easton is handling this far better than I could have ever done so. He insists it’s a mere bump in the road, and an encouragement to only persevere more. It’s hard to not like this guy, and equally, it’s hard to not like Expostion.

The album is essentially, a modern take on “field recordings”, ala John Lomax. Recorded primarily in three pop up studios, in locations of significance, the album feeds on the essence of kindred spirits of the past. Easton recorded these songs at the Okfuskee County Historical Society in Okemah, OK which is the birthplace of Woody Guthrie. Additionally, songs were recorded at The Gunter Hotel in San Antonio where Robert Johnson had also recorded. Lastly, Easton visited the Shack-Up Inn in Clarksdale, MS where Muddy Waters was born. Exposition is a contemporary folk album that addresses our attempts to find peace in these modern times.

Easton utilizes a variety of themes as well as covering a lot of geography in that attempt to find peace. Topics touched upon include, but aren’t limited to, honesty, anger, politics, Cleveland, LSD, pain, divorce, sobriety, Alaska, dancing, 9/11, voting, Cadillac sedans, self reflection, jail, Moravia, fishing, sex, weed, Mexico, Todd Snider and much, much more. The album was recorded using a variety of vintage instruments and equipment, and combined with the ambiance of the locations that these songs were recorded, the results are indeed special. The end product is an album with indefinable texture, and a warmth in sound that resonates like few I’ve heard.

That warmth of sound and depth of texture becomes immediately apparent as the album opens with “Peace of Mind”. The song’s lyrics resonated personally with me with verses like, “nobody wants to wake up angry/nobody wants to go to bed insane”, and the closing mantra “I want you to have the same peace of mind, as I wish for myself”. The song promptly became a individual favorite. The next songs, “Scratch the Sky” and “Exploding Buildings” also left their mark, particularly the latter, which brought to mind a feel of Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. “St. Augustine’s” instrumental simplicity serves as its most formative weapon while “New Year’s Day’s” subtle instrumentation shines. Both methods effectively accentuate the personal themes of the songs, one of sobriety, the other divorce. “Sail Away Sailors” is a catchy tale of travelers, tequila, a hammock and following your heart. I really enjoyed the musical contrast provided in “If You Want Something Done Right”. With a bluesy pace that seemed unique to the album, the song addresses peace of mind, self reflection and getting one right with one’s self. Another favorite track of mine.

Easton tackles politics in many of the songs populating Exposition, mostly subtlety and metaphorically, but perhaps none as straightforward as he does in “Don’t Spectate; Participate” and “You and Your Troublesome Friends”. Voter apathy, selfishness and rights are interjected in the former, while the flat out anger contained in the later seems to somewhat contradict the “Peace of Mind” previously sought. Exposition closes out with “Broken Brain”, a fun recitation of words rhyming with “brain” in every verse. An all in good fun jab at fellow songwriter Cory Branan.

I really enjoyed Exposition. Having only been familiar with a few of Easton’s earlier songs, it felt like a grand discovery. From the stunning cover art (a stunning portrait done by Chris J. Zahller) to the heartfelt songs contained within, Tim Easton should be immensely proud of it.

Tim Easton’s album Exposition is available now via Bandcamp at: https://timeaston1.bandcamp.com/album/exposition

More information on Tim Easton and his music can be found by visiting his webpage here: https://www.timeaston.com/

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