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Showing posts with label Million Stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Million Stars. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bluesman Tim Gartland releases Million Stars


New Release From Triple-Threat Bluesman Tim Gartland

Tim Gartland doesn't like to play loud.

He likes to hear himself and the musicians around him, and wants his audience to be able to take in the subtleties of the music, the lyrics, the tones.  I suspect he may even want them to be able to share a word of appreciation between his well-penned verses.  For a blues musician, particularly a harmonica player, this is rare.  Trust me on this, I know.

Singer/songwriter/harp player Tim Gartland is a rare breed, indeed. After being bitten by the blues bug at a Muddy Waters show as a young teenager in Ohio, he soon found himself in Chicago, playing harmonica with the likes of Bo Diddley, Carey Bell, Big Jack Johnson and Pinetop Perkins. Tim became increasingly interested in songwriting, and began writing melodic songs with relevant lyrics and elegant, funny turns of phrase.

Tim moved to Boston in 1991, where he became a well-respected player in the burgeoning Boston blues scene.  He became a founding member, lead vocalist and harmonica player for popular group The Porch Rockers, who released three CDs.  In 1998, he was a finalist in the Boston Blues Challenge.  In 2011 Tim wrote and published an instructional book entitled, "The Talking Harmonica," and launched a teaching career, becoming the first harmonica instructor at the prestigious Winchester Community School.

Tim embarked on his solo recording career with the 2011 release of the critically acclaimed "Looking Into the Sun".

Tim became a skilled harmonica player fairly quickly. And somewhere along the way, he became a first-rate singer and songwriter with a supple baritone and a very specific idea about how his songs should sound.  On MILLION STARS, Tim is surrounded with exactly the right musicians and producer/engineer to bring his vision to life. Tim's organ/piano player and songwriting partner, Tom West, has long been regarded as a key player (pun unavoidable, sorry) on the Boston scene, gracing stages and recordings with Susan Tedeschi, Peter Wolf, and many more. Producer/engineer/guitarist Chris Rival has been the hands and ears behing some of the best-sounding, most soulful recordings to come out of the Boston area — including Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, Peter Wolf, Susan Tedeschi and many more.  Drummer Forrest Padgett (Charlie Musselwhite) and bassist Paul Justice are well-respected longtime staples on the scene.

One of the first things to strike the listener about MILLION STARS is the sonority of the performance and the production;  nothing is fighting for sonic space, the instruments and voice nestle comfortably together so your feel like you're in the room with them, and glad to be there. The players are all tasty and relaxed, which lets them cover a variety of grooves and feels — mid-tempo shuffle, funky R&B, strutting "Exile on Main Street" era Stones, driving down-tempo blues, haunting ballads — and bring them all under the same umbrealla.

Then you start absorbing the lyrics, which are real-world meaningful, funny, ironic and clever.  The bouncy opener "Let Me Keep the Dog" (also the first radio single) puts the spoils of a broken relationship into perspective, while "Mess Me Up" states "I could use some attention/from someone with bad intentions", and the title track has the classic line, "If you'd just extract our head from your behind / you'd see a million stars that can shine."  "I Should Have Cared Less" is a heartbreaking ballad worthy of an aritst like John Hiatt.

A fine harp player, Gartland keeps it concise, then stretches out and nails it in a few different harp positions when the song calls for it.  He favors an acoustic sounding, undistorted tone on most of the tracks, though he does occasionally pay homage to his Chicago influences, particularly the intrumental "Tippin' Time" and the straight ahead blues "I Can Add".

It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to Tim Gartland.

                    — Richard Rosenblatt, VizzTone label group/Vizzable Music


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tim Gartland - Million Stars - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (September 9, 2014), Million Stars, from Tim Gartland. Having more of an R&B attack on the blues, Gartland, joined by Tom West (Keys), Chris Rival (guitars), Paul Justice (bass) and Forrest Padgett (drums) present a very smooth soulful set. Opening with Let Me Keep The Dog is a well balanced track showcasing Gartland on harp and vocals, his voice being somewhat stark and interesting. Off Of My Mind is an upbeat track sounding a bit like a Billy Preston track (rhythmically). Again, Gartland has a real nice voice for the style of music and organ work by West supports the body quite well. Gartland's vocals have been compared to Jimi and on Mess Me Up, the phrasing and timbre do sound similar. A cool track with airy guitar riffs this track has a nice texture and a nice bridge featuring West and Rival on solos. When The Next Wind Blows has a funky rhythm and a cool bass line by Justice. Talking about universal appeal, this would be the track. Gartland lays down a nice harp solo and West plays a nice piano sounding quite like Randall Bramblett in style. I Should Have Cared Less is one of my favorites tracks on the release with a rich spiritual feel. Accentuated by nice organ and piano work from West, this track just has that something special. Two Rights Make A Wrong is built along the lines of a Curtis Mayfield composition with strong but neutral organ work. Rival plays some very clean jazzy style guitar riffs making this track stand out even more. Better The Foot Slip has a bit of modern southern funk rock. Again, vocal phrasing makes you think briefly of Jimi but the warmth of the organ keeps you in line. Another of my favorites, this track gets a really nice groove. Gartland plays some Johnathan Edwards like harp work, keeping it easy but cool. Title track, Million Stars, resembles Let It Bleed and how could that be bad. With a taste of New Orleans and a taste of country another fun track. Tippin' Time is built around a really nice bass riff by Justice but with nice lead harp work from Gartland. Again Rival steps up with clean guitar riffs and Padgett holds it tight as West pushes you back with powerful organ work. Nice instrumental. Shine Your Loving Light is a solid ballad with clean accompaniment by West on keys. Simple harp riffs and driving clean bass runs add to this simple radio style track. I Can Add had a distinctive Willie Dixon feel and of course solid bass work. The bluesiest track on the release makes way for Gartland to really dig in on the blues harp. West skillfully weaves a nice piano pattern throughout the track as well a a clean solo. Slide guitar from Rival also gives it some grit. Wrapping the release is Shake It Nina, boogie track with a healthy helping of harp and a does of organ over the driving beat of Justice and Padgett.

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