Tim Easton Special 20

REVIEW: Tim Easton “Special 20” and “Not Cool” reissues


Tim Easton – Special 20 and Not Cool reissues

Tim Easton Special 20

Tim Easton is reissuing two of his keystone albums via Black Mesa Records this week:  Special 20 and Not Cool.

Special 20 was originally released in 1998, and was produced at Nashville’s Alex the Great Recording in 1998 with producers Brad Jones and Robin Eaton. This 25th anniversary reissue, if you had to sum it up, leans toward the country folk, Americana genre.  Named for a distinctive hohner harmonica that has been warmly incorporated in country, and country bluesy styles, the record features the rich sound all throughout.

“Just Like Home” kicks off the celebration with driving bluesy set up, harmonica in the forefront, and a Dylan-esque lyrical style.  “Special 20” hosts the harmonica sounding like a train whistle blowing, and is an ode to the lonesome existence of the country blues. Youthful vocal tones characterize “Torture Comes to Mind” and the rock n roll takes flight.

“All the Pretty Girls Leave Town” is a compelling gently acoustic ballad, a simple homage to what happens sometimes in a small town.  “They leave everything behind….” and they can leave in the spring, fall, any time. “Help Me Find My Space Girl” is a heavier, delicious squarely Americana style song.

These songs are perfectly relevant today and might as well be introduced as new Americana music for anyone who isn’t familiar with them.

Tom Easton "Not Cool"

Not Cool is quoted to be Easton’s own personal favorite album, released 15 years later in 2013.

Not Cool is Easton at his rock ‘n roll center — this is rockabilly, bluesy Tim Easton, with a little bit of sass all the way through.  “Don’t Lie” starts out with a spacey sound and then the groovy strings come in and it’s “tell me why you do the things that you do.”  “Troubled Times” is the rockabilly 50’s style kickin’ it.  “Don’t worry, I love you even when you’re down.”  Sweet and to the point.

“Lickety Split” uses funky rhythms and the rubber band bounce of an instrument I couldn’t quite place.  It sounds like the Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” with the clavinet through a wah wah pedal. It that the harmonium? (Feel free to comment below and let me know.) But any which way you define it, the song is a blast.  “Little Doggie” continues the bluesy fun.  The whole album is relevant, relatable, and well worth putting into your collection.

Not Cool was also produced by Brad Jones and Robin Eaton, with assistance by Alex Muñoz.   Musicians on Not Cool are Tim Easton, JD Simo, Joe Eick, Brad Jones, Sadler Vaden, Jon Radford, Joe Pisapia, Megan Palmer and Donny Schroder.

Find the music here:  http://blackmesarecords.com/collections/tim-easton

Enjoy our previous coverage here: REVIEW: Tim Easton North American Songwriter Vols 1 -2

Musicians on Special 20 are Tim Easton on acoustic and electric guitar, 12-string, vocals, Special 20 and foot taps; Ross Rice on drums; Matt Surgeson on bass and double bass; Al Perkins on pedal steel, dobro, and banjo; Sean Beal on accordian, electric rhythm and feedback guitar, big and baritone guitars, and backing vocals; Brad Jones on glockenspiel, bass, harmonium and Hammond B3; Tramp on mandolin; Jim Hoke on Special 20, and bass harmonica; Justin Crooks on foot stomp and homemade snare;  Mickey Grimn on washboard, percussion, sneeze, oil can & percussion loops; Annie Light-Brown on backing vocals; Phillip Park on electric slide guitar and texture; Clare Surgeson on backing vocals; Robin Eaton on chime; Teresa Fyffe on violin; and a quote from “Pueblo Waltz” by Townes Van Zandt.


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